US Predators hit a Taliban camp in North Waziristan

The Ghulam Khan area in Pakistan. Click to view larger map.

US Predators struck again in Pakistan’s Taliban-controlled tribal agency of North Waziristan today, killing 20 “militants” at a camp on the border with Afghanistan.

Unmanned Predators or the heavily armed and deadly Reapers fired at least six missiles at a training camp and a vehicle in the village of Bangi Darra in the Ghulam Khan area, just north of Miramshah, the main town in North Waziristan.

More than 20 “militants” were reported killed in the strike, according Geo News. The Associated Press of Pakistan reported that 15 Taliban fighters under the command of Hafiz Gul Bahadar were killed in the strike. Four “foreigners,” a term used to describe al Qaeda and Central Asian fighters, were reported to be among those killed. No senior al Qaeda or Taliban fighters have been reported killed in strike.

The strike in Ghulam Khan is the second in the area in five days. A strike on Nov. 11 targeted a group of Haqqani Network “fighters” returning to North Waziristan from across the border in Khost province in Afghanistan.

The Ghulam Khan area is in the sphere of influence of both Hafiz Gul Bahhadar and the Haqqani Network.

Bahadar is the overall Taliban commander for North Waziristan. Bahadar provides shelter to top al Qaeda leaders as well as terrorists from numerous Pakistani and Central Asian terror groups.

The Haqqani Network is a Taliban group led by mujahedeen commander Jalaluddin Haqqani and his son Siraj. The Haqqanis are closely allied to al Qaeda and to the Taliban, led by Mullah Omar. Siraj Haqqani is the leader of the Miramshah Regional Military Shura, one of the Afghan Taliban’s top four commands; he sits on the Taliban’s Quetta Shura; and he is also is a member of al Qaeda’s Shura Majlis. The Haqqanis are based on both sides of the Afghan-Pakistani border.

The US has targeted Siraj and other top-level Haqqani Network commanders since 2008. On Feb. 18 of this year, the US killed Mohammed Haqqani, another of the 12 sons of Jalaluddin Haqqani, in an airstrike in Danda Darpa Khel just outside Miramshah. Mohammed served as a military commander for the Haqqani Network. Siraj is believed to be sheltering in the neighboring tribal agency of Kurram to avoid the Predators.

The Haqqani Network operates on both sides of the Afghan-Pakistani border. The US military has heavily targeted the Haqqani Network’s leadership in raids and airstrikes in the Afghan provinces of Khost, Paktia, and Paktika.

The Predator strikes, by the numbers

Today’s strike is the ninth US attack in Pakistan this month. On Nov. 1, a strike in Mir Ali, a large town in North Waziristan, killed six “militants.” Three strikes on Nov. 3 killed 13 terrorists, and a pair of strikes on Nov. 7 killed 14 more. A Nov. 11 attack killed six Haqqani Network fighters as they returned from operations across the border in Khost province, Afghanistan. And the last strike, on Nov. 13, appears to have killed four civilians.

The pace of the strikes since the beginning of September is unprecedented since the US began the air campaign in Pakistan in 2004. September’s record number of 21 strikes was followed by 16 strikes in October. The previous monthly high was 11 strikes in January 2010, after the Taliban and al Qaeda executed a successful suicide attack at Combat Outpost Chapman that targeted CIA personnel who were active in gathering intelligence for the Predator campaign in Pakistan. In the bombing at COP Chapman, seven CIA officials and a Jordanian intelligence officer were killed.

The US has carried out 100 attacks inside Pakistan this year, which is more than double the number of strikes in Pakistan just two years earlier. A few months ago, the US exceeded last year’s strike total of 53 with a strike in Kurram in late August. In 2008, the US carried out a total of 36 strikes inside Pakistan. [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.]

All but nine of this year’s 100 strikes have taken place in North Waziristan. Of the nine strikes that have occurred outside of North Waziristan, seven took place in South Waziristan, one occurred in Khyber, and one took place in Kurram.

The US campaign in northwestern Pakistan has targeted top al Qaeda leaders, al Qaeda’s external operations network, and Taliban leaders and fighters who threaten both the Afghan and Pakistani states as well as support al Qaeda’s external operations. [For a list of al Qaeda and Taliban leaders killed in the US air campaign in Pakistan, see LWJ Special Report, Senior al Qaeda and Taliban leaders killed in US airstrikes in Pakistan, 2004 – 2010.]

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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  • John Keyne says:

    Check out the ISI and Pakistan army’s nefarious activities

  • William Crispin says:

    Bill, thanks for incorporating the google map…I hope you continue doing this. It is very helpful. Bill Crispin

  • kp says:

    Later reports says 20 killed including 4 foreigners with 6 missiles hitting a house and one car.


    “At least four missiles were fired before dawn Tuesday, two at the mud-brick house and two at the vehicle, two Pakistani intelligence officials said.”

    “”Some of the militants were on foot,” an intelligence official in the region told Reuters. “They had just returned from Afghanistan when they were hit. So far, the death toll is 20.””


    “US drone targeted a training camp of the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban militant outfit.”
    [i.e Mehsud’s TTP == Pakistani Taliban]


    “‘We have been informed by our intelligence that 15 people died on the spot while seven were injured. Five of the wounded later succumbed to their injuries,’ the official said on condition of anonymity.”


  • ArneFufkin says:

    That’s a significant engagement.

  • paul says:

    Who realises that the pak army will only go into north waziristan once the haqqani network are moved safetly into an adjoining area like kurram(sp?)
    Bill- i hope your US military contacts know who the true enemy is ie Pak army/ISI and act accordingly!

  • MalangJan says:

    ISI has already moved some of its Haqanis assets into Kurram. Thanks to Tori Tribe(Shia), they are resisting it to the last drop of thier blood. Pakistani army has already surrounded Toris tribe but all preaise to the courage of Toris.
    There is one positive from this development, Haqanis will be more exposed. Favorable circumstances for better intelligence & exposed to precise drones strukes if the US so desire. Pashtun observers of drones strikes are noting with suspescion that drones are attacking Pakistani Taliban(bad Taliban) in far greater frequency than Afghan Talian(good Taliban).

  • Musson says:

    I wonder how the new all Electric whisper quiet predators will impact these raids? Right now, they can’t see the drones but they can hear them – so they take cover. With an electric drone – they’ll be caught outside and unaware.

  • JRP says:

    Musson or anyone else on this thread . . . Has anyone heard or read anything about development of very small non-weaponized drones that can pick up and transmit video & sound; perhaps having invasive capacities heretofore unheard of? I’ve heard rumors about our intelligence agencies trying to truly develop the ultimate in mobile “fly on the wall” eavesdropping technology.

  • Villiger says:

    A worthy outcome for strike #100-2010.
    Lets hope they got/get more of the good Taliban and their Masters AQ, as well as the bad. Of course the overlord majordomo blackguards the ISI roam wild and free, for now.
    I wonder if they know that their evil is untenable and that they can never win. 2014 is long enough for Pakistan to succumb to its degenerative cancer. Meantime, here’s to some more intensive acu-drone therapy for this retarded lot who can’t tell good from bad.

  • blert says:

    Based upon first hand accounts they don’t take cover. Quite the reverse!
    They stand tall and very still, according to one brave reporter. The Taliban drone fodder are told that if they stay extremely still the drone can no longer see them!
    And so, when the drone of the Predator passed overhead hundreds of Talibs froze in their tracks upon the mountainside.
    ( This particular account occurred inside Afghanistan — and it is highly likely the drone was pure recon. It shows their belief system AND just how obvious large formations are in terrain virtually naked to the sky.)
    The other point the reporter made is that overhead drones were so persistent that there was simply no time when you weren’t hearing them. It was only a case of how close it was.
    The reporter went on to describe just how clever the Talibs were and how many hundreds of fighters were able to evade the ‘killer’ drone — remaining ‘unobserved.’
    His conclusions were absurd. The very constant presence of the drone establishes that the all-seeing eye was on them. Further, IR signatures from hundreds of men floating all over the valley side would not be missed.
    Again we see that opfor stupidity keeps them fighting in the field. They really do believe that they’re getting it over on us.
    When the USMC drives the opfor from cover in Helmand land — they are really driven from cover. There is no forest or jungle to hide in. You can’t even find a bush. All that we have to do is drive them away from the water supply and they are ruined. Thirst is a real morale breaker.
    The other gambit is to keep the opfor on the move in the cold. That’s another morale breaker: ask Napoleon.
    And lastly, punishing the opfor while it’s withdrawing to FATA sanctuaries gives the Talibs something to talk about over the Winter. They need feedback, and since they can’t read, story telling will have to do.

  • Rhyno327 says:

    The tempo of ops is picking up, sounds like they wanna bend their arms till they break. Force them to negotiate. In the meantime i would keep pressing them-wherever they are.

  • Stu Skinner says:

    From events being reported, it appears that General Petraeus is doing an excellent job. That said, most contributers to this comments page agree drones cannot win a war. Making missle fodder out of AQ/Talb foot soldiers can’t be good for general morale. So the attacks must be helping to degrade the enemy. Then you have reports of AQ/Talib pay cuts that no doubt further degrade the enemy’s will to fight. Other tactics no doubt are helping. General Petraeus applies his war fighting skills and knowledge of human nature to this struggle. What is needed now is to see the big fish get snagged: MO, UBL (if alive), Dr Z, and (for me personally, just because he is such a disgusting traitor, Adam Go Down). If we’re serious about getting HVTs, take those out soon. Americans will support it, and it might even give the Democrats some renewed stature on the American political stage.

  • sports says:

    I think its important to continue singling them out and dropping a few bombs on them just to keep them on their toes. I like the concept of driving them away from their water source and let the thirst set in. I don’t favor negotiating with them…instead they should be hit until they say “uncle”.

  • KBK says:

    Dear Mr Roggio,
    I have read that Pakistani authorities give two versions of such attacks: one is for local residents which gives correct account of deaths of civilians & militants and the other is what you publish here which is specially for overseas readers like us where all deaths are of militants. Is it true?

  • poolheatpumps says:

    I agree with ArneFufkin. That’s a significant engagement.


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