The US struck Taliban targets in two separate villages in Pakistan’s Taliban-controlled tribal agency late Thursday night and Friday. The US has carried out three airstrikes in Pakistan in the past 24 hours.
Unmanned Predators or the more deadly Reapers fired missiles at Taliban safe houses in the villages of Bahadar Khel and Khaddi, killing 14 terrorists. Eleven were killed in the attack on Bahadar Khel and three more in the strike in Khaddi, according to a report published in Dawn.
Three “foreigners,” a term used by Pakistani officials to describe Arab or Central Asian al Qaeda fighters, were killed in Bahadar Khel and two more were killed in Khaddi. The identity of those killed is not yet known, and no senior al Qaeda or Taliban leaders have been reported killed at this time.
The strikes took place in a region administered by North Waziristan Taliban leader Hafiz Gul Bahadar. Al Qaeda and allied Pakistani and Central Asian jihadist groups shelter in Bahadar’s tribal areas, and they also run training camps and safe houses in the region.
Despite the known presence of al Qaeda and other foreign groups in North Waziristan, the Pakistani military has indicated that it has no plans to take on Bahadar or the Haqqani Network, a deadly Taliban group that is closely allied with al Qaeda. Bahadar and the Haqqanis are considered “good Taliban” by the Pakistani military establishment as they do not carry out attacks inside Pakistan.
Some of al Qaeda’s most senior leaders have been killed in Bahadar’s tribal areas. Most recently, on May 21, a US strike in North Waziristan killed Mustafa Abu Yazid, one of al Qaeda’s top leaders, and the most senior al Qaeda leader to have been killed in the US air campaign in Pakistan to date.
Yazid served as the leader of al Qaeda in Afghanistan and the wider Khorasan, and more importantly, as al Qaeda’s top financier, which put him in charge of the terror group’s purse strings. He served on al Qaeda’s Shura Majlis, or top decision-making council. Yazid also was closely allied with the Taliban and advocated the program of embedding small al Qaeda teams with Taliban forces in Afghanistan.
Background on US strikes in Pakistan
The latest two strikes are the second and third reported inside Pakistan this month. All three strikes have taken place over the past 24 hours. Yesterday, the US hit a Taliban compound in the town of Norak in North Waziristan, killing three terrorists.
So far this year, the US has carried out 41 strikes in Pakistan; all but two of them have taken place in North Waziristan. The US is well on its way to exceeding last year’s strike total in Pakistan. In 2009, the US carried out 53 strikes in Pakistan; and in 2008, the US carried out 36 strikes in the country. [For up-to-date charts on the US air campaign in Pakistan, see LWJ Special Report, “Charting the data for US airstrikes in Pakistan, 2004 – 2010.”]
Over the past several months, unmanned US Predator and Reaper strike aircraft have been pounding Taliban and al Qaeda hideouts in North Waziristan, and have also struck at targets in South Waziristan and Khyber, in an effort to kill senior terror leaders and disrupt the networks that threaten Pakistan, Afghanistan, and the West. [For more information, see LWJ report, “Senior al Qaeda and Taliban leaders killed in US airstrikes in Pakistan, 2004 – 2010.”]
A top terrorist leader claimed that the US program had been crippled. In early April, Siraj Haqqani, the leader of the al Qaeda-linked Haqqani Network, said that the effectiveness of US airstrikes in killing senior Taliban and al Qaeda leaders had “decreased 90 percent” since the suicide attack on Combat Outpost Chapman. While other factors may be involved in the decreased effectiveness in killing the top-tier leaders, an analysis of the data shows that only three top-tier commanders have been killed since Jan 1, 2010, but seven top-tier leaders were killed between Aug. 1, 2009, and Dec. 31, 2009. [See LWJ report, “Effectiveness of US strikes in Pakistan ‘decreased 90 percent’ since suicide strike on CIA – Siraj Haqqani,“ for more information.]
For the past few months, most US and Pakistani officials believed that Hakeemullah Mehsud, the leader of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, had been killed in a Jan. 14 strike in Pasalkot in North Waziristan. But recently, after four months of silence on the subject, the Taliban released two tapes to prove that Hakeemullah is alive. On the tapes, Hakeemullah said the Taliban will carry out attacks inside the US.
US strikes in Pakistan in 2010:
• US kills 14 in 2 strikes in North Waziristan
June 11, 2010
• US Predator strike kills 3 in North Waziristan
June 10, 2010
• US kills 11 in Predator strike in South Waziristan
May 28, 2010
• US airstrike kills 6 in North Waziristan
May 21, 2010
• US Predators carry out first strike in Khyber
May 15, 2010
• US pounds Taliban in pair of strikes in North Waziristan
May 11, 2010
• US airstrike kills 10 ‘rebels’ in North Waziristan
May 9, 2010
• US airstrike kills 4 ‘militants’ in North Waziristan
May 3, 2010
• US strike kills 8 Taliban in North Waziristan
April 26, 2010
• US airstrike kills 7 Taliban in North Waziristan
April 24, 2010
• US strikes kill 6 in North Waziristan
April 16, 2010
• US strike kills 4 in Taliban stronghold of North Waziristan
April 14, 2010
• US strike kills 5 Taliban in North Waziristan
April 12, 2010
• US strikes kill 6 in North Waziristan
March 30, 2010
• US strike kills 4 in North Waziristan
March 27, 2010
• US kills 6 in strike against Haqqani Network
March 23, 2010
• US strike kills 4 in North Waziristan
March 21, 2010
• US kills 8 terrorists in 2 new airstrikes in North Waziristan
March 17, 2010
• US Predator strike in North Waziristan kills 11 Taliban, al Qaeda
March 16, 2010
• US airstrike kills 12 in North Waziristan
March 10, 2010
• US airstrike in North Waziristan kills 5 Taliban fighters
March 8, 2010
• US hits Haqqani Network in North Waziristan, kills 8
Feb. 24, 2010
• US airstrikes target Haqqani Network in North Waziristan
Feb. 18, 2010
• Latest US airstrike kills 3 in North Waziristan
Feb. 17, 2010
• US strike kills 4 in North Waziristan
Feb. 15, 2010
• US strikes training camp in North Waziristan
Feb. 14, 2010
• Predators pound terrorist camp in North Waziristan
Feb. 2, 2010
• US airstrike targets Haqqani Network in North Waziristan
Jan. 29, 2010
• US airstrike in North Waziristan kills 6
Jan. 19, 2010
• Latest US airstrike in Pakistan kills 20
Jan. 17, 2010
• US strikes kill 11 in North Waziristan
Jan. 15, 2010
• US airstrike hits Taliban camp in North Waziristan
Jan. 14, 2010
• US airstrike kills 4 Taliban fighters in North Waziristan
Jan. 9, 2010
• US airstrike kills 5 in North Waziristan
Jan. 8, 2010
• US kills 17 in latest North Waziristan strike
Jan. 6, 2010
• US airstrike kills 2 Taliban fighters in Mir Ali in Pakistan
Jan. 3, 2010
• US kills 3 Taliban in second strike in North Waziristan
Jan. 1, 2010
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Were these attacks basically simultaneous (within minutes) or just close to each other (an hour or two)? – if this is known and:
How far between the villages?
Thanks for the newspost and thanks to anyone who replies to the questions. : )
According to Waziristan sources, an Arab al-Qaeda commander by the name of Ihsanullah was killed in latest CIA drone attacks along with Turkish jihadi commander.
Keep the pace all month long.
Would have to invade northern Pakistan, the Pakistani military and cowardly acts.
@Zeissa: You should look at the linked DAWN news article. It says “The twin strikes 12 hours apart struck west and east of Miramshah, the main town in the tribal district.”.
I presume these are only a few (perhaps up to 20) miles apart but I can’t find them on my maps. But getting the spelling “correct” is a problem even Miramshah (or Miram shah or Miran shah) is problematic. The peril of this is rendering Pashtun words into Latin script). Is it Bandar, Bhandar, etc, etc.
Daily Times says:
“DERA ISMAIL KHAN: A volley of US missiles killed 15 Taliban in North Waziristan on Friday, the second such strike in less than 12 hours, officials said. Six missiles were fired on a house in a village close to the border, two intelligence officers said. Yousaf Khan, a government administrator in Miranshah, said 15 Taliban were killed. He said officers were still gathering information about the identities of the victims.”
6 “missiles” is quite a sustained attack or cleaning up after squirters
The timing is late evening then early morning then later than morning.
The US doesn’t need to invade. We are already there but its small teams, moving at nite, recon, surveillance, targeting. We seem to be getting alot of good targeting intel lately, and now WE terrorize them. THEY are the hunted ones. Outstanding…
I consider myself a slightly left-leaning independant. ( mostly socially) Not that it matters that much; but I’m sick of the politics. Where the water ends, we are ALL Americans. LWJ is a site I visit at least three times a day. Love the dedicated reporting by Bill, and also the rest of the rest of the devoted staff. To the point: It is beyond obvious that Pakistan is playing both sides, while collecting Billions ( notice the capital B) in U.S. Taxpayer money, they support and inform the Afgan Taliban. Consider; the Taliban defeated the ruskies with a ton of support from washington. Is it really crazy to believe that they wouldn’t still be harboring a grudge about fallen boys(not that long ago), possibly aiding an insurgency; possibly through Islamabad?
I am not exactly sold on any Russian involvement, but I am sure that there is no way this insurgency could be whooping our butts thus bad( a draw is a win for them, kinda like the world cup), without some foreign interference.
Kyle, you might discuss leaving politics at the water’s edge with your left leaning friends. Obama has more support from the right for his actions against AQ/Taliban.
More evidence of ISI meddling in Afghanistan, and why drones alone will not win us the war.
THE SUN IN THE SKY: THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN PAKISTAN’S ISI AND AFGHAN INSURGENTS
The Paks refuse to extend their writ into North Waz. on the grounds that those nice Taliban are “good” because they only attack Afghans and their Nato allies (us).
Our announced coalition plans should include occupying North Waz. and returning it to Pak soverignty only if and when they agree to and demonstrate responsible behavior.
There are a number of reasons why its highly unlikely that there are any western ground teams operational within the FATA at all. This isn’t to say that its impossible, its not by a long shot, but it is quite unlikely.
Imagine the implications if one or more of those teams is caught or wiped out. Keep in mind the overwhelming almost paralyzing risk-aversion practiced by US theater commanders.
“Somebody” else is providing the initial targeting information. The drones do their own observation and strike targeting. Nobody is doing post-strike analysis on the ground.
The bombs and the bombers were a lot bigger in the 70’s.
Render said : “its highly unlikely that there are any western ground teams operational within the FATA at all.” and “The drones do their own observation and strike targeting.”
With all due respect I think it is highly possible if not certain that Western forces have teams on the ground in “the FATA”. If the past is any indicator Western forces have never shied away from putting special forces teams behind enemy lines. (Look at Viet Nam, Panama, Iraq etc.) I can fully imagine that small observation, recon and targeting teams could operate indefinitely within “the FATA” without being compromised. In fact, I would be deeply dissapointed if they weren’t. Remember that the bad guys in “the FATA” stick to the main “roads”, use vehicles and live in houses and villages and not under camoflage nets in the “woods”. It’s the special forces units that stay hidden and undetected. Of course it is exactly the opposite (for the most part) across the border where the situation is flipped. I think live, real time, human targeting is a huge operation and is a very important part of the equation in this conflict. I also believe there are several different human sources of targeting information such as the SpecOps teams I’ve mentioned as well as regular tribesmen and tribal leaders, paid Pak informers, Afghan agents and maybe even the odd ISI/Pak Army person who may be getting paid or might not be Islamists. Anyway, you see what I’m saying.
As far as the actual targeting capabilities of the Drones, themselves, I don’t know everyting about this, as a lot of that info is classified, but I would think there are several short-comings that can only be gapped by humans. For instance the angle of cameras (30 degrees at best?) would make it very hard to actually see someones face (typically I would think you’re generally looking down at their hats), secondly I think that you would have to have a huge amount of Drones in the sky to follow several possible targets or “leads” 24/7 without interruption and thirdly I think night-time surveillance is tough even with some sort of night-vision capability. (same short-coming with sattelites) and finally the Drones can’t hear what the targets are saying and presumedly can only pick up radio and cell phone communications.
Again, I, obviously, don’t know all the details of the Drones themselves or how they factor into all of this (except for the Coup de Gras) but I’ll bet my bottom dollar we have several teams of very special people c”camping out” in “the FATA” 24/7.
Bungo – I stand by every word I wrote. I won’t say anymore on that subject, but I do ask you to re-read what I wrote above very carefully.