US Predators are killing ‘hardcore elements’ and ‘foreigners’ – Pakistani general

A senior Pakistani Army officer said that the covert US air campaign inside Pakistan’s tribal areas is killing dangerous al Qaeda and Taliban fighters and that civilian casualties are low.

Major General Ghayur Mehmood, the commander of Pakistan’s 7 Division, whose area of operations includes the Taliban-controlled tribal agency of North Waziristan, said that “hardcore elements” of the Taliban and “foreigners” make up the bulk of those killed in the US airstrikes. Mehmood’s North Waziristan territory has been the epicenter of the airstrike campaign in recent years. Since the beginning of 2010, 90 percent of the strikes (113 of the 130 strikes) have hit targets in North Waziristan, according to data compiled by The Long War Journal.

“Myths and rumours about US predator strikes and the casualty figures are many, but it’s a reality that many of those being killed in these strikes are hardcore elements, a sizeable number of them foreigners,” Mehmood told Pakistani reporters in a briefing in Miramshah in North Waziristan yesterday, according to Dawn.

Mehmood also said that “few” civilians have been killed in the strikes.

“Yes there are a few civilian casualties in such precision strikes, but a majority of those eliminated are terrorists, including foreign terrorist elements.”

According to Mehmood, the CIA carried out 164 airstrikes between 2007 and 2011 using unmanned Predators and Reapers in Pakistan’s tribal areas. He claimed that 964 terrorists, including 793 Pakistanis and 171 “foreigners,” have been killed during that time period.

Mehmood stated that “Arabs, Uzbeks, Tajiks, Chechens, Filipinos, and Moroccans” were among the foreigners killed. He did not provide the number of civilians killed during that time period.

According to data on the strikes compiled by The Long War Journal, there have been 223 strikes inside Pakistan since the beginning of 2007, with an estimated 1,694 Taliban and al Qaeda operatives and 88 civilians killed during that time frame. There have been 164 strikes in North Waziristan alone since 2007, which tallies with Mehmood’s figure on the number of strikes, suggesting that he was referring only to airstrikes in North Waziristan. The Long War Journal‘s data is based on Pakistani press reports.

Numerous senior foreign al Qaeda and Taliban commanders have been killed in the strikes. See LWJ reports, Charting the data for US airstrikes in Pakistan, 2004 – 2011, and Senior al Qaeda and Taliban leaders killed in US airstrikes in Pakistan, 2004 – 2011.

Al Qaeda’s external operations network is the primary target of the US air campaign, which is focused on top al Qaeda leaders and Taliban leaders and fighters who threaten both the Afghan and Pakistani states.

Mehmood’s comments are unusual, as Pakistani officials rarely mention the US strikes except to denounce them as being unhelpful and to request that the US end the operations. But the Pakistani military and Inter-Services Intelligence directorate is known to secretly provide intelligence to direct the attacks, as well as basing for the unmanned Predators and Reapers. This is all done with the support of the Pakistani government, which publicly denies any involvement in the program.

Opponents of the strikes claim that the vast majority of those killed in the US airstrikes are civilians, while Pakistani nationalists and Islamists political parties have used the attacks to stoke anti-American sentiments in Pakistan. The Taliban have used the strikes to try to justify suicide attacks against civilians, the government, and security forces.

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

Tags: ,


  • Villiger says:

    Good sign. The Pak army is sending a msg to the people that they are working together with the CIA in the drone program. Which means that the drone program should continue despite Raymond Davis and also possibly that Davis’s job was not such a bad thing in itself.
    Still, at a practical level the US will have a lot of rebuilding to do in the aftermath to get the drones back to full throttle. Pak involvement may increase.

  • gerald flowers says:

    Finally some support from the Pakistanis! Though any civilian casualties are regrettable,in wars against insurgents they are inevitable. The sooner the general public realize this truth the better.Then perhaps we will have fewer knee jerk call for bombing people you don’t even know. That being said any Pakistani stupid enough to hang within the blast radius of a jihadi should know by now that they are taking a dangerous risk.

  • Paul says:

    According to Mehmood, the CIA carried out 164 airstrikes between 2007 and 2011 using unmanned Predators and Reapers in Pakistan’s tribal areas. He claimed that 964 terrorists, including 793 Pakistanis and 171 “foreigners,” have been killed during that time period.
    From those figures the main terrorist nation in the tribal areas are Pakistani not Afghani!

  • Neonmeat says:

    Its good that someone inside Pakistan is finally stating the truth of the matter concerning Drone Strikes. A truth many of us who actually pay real attention to these stikes already know. However, I fear that this will go largely unreported and unnoticed by the people who really need to hear this, the Pakistan media and people.

  • Scott P. says:

    It is a curious comment. I would like to know WHY he came out and said that. To be sure there is a good reason for it.
    Bill, your thoughts?

  • Infidel4LIFE says:

    That is unusual. This spring and summer are crucial to establish some kind of security. Killing the enemy is part of it. Would this be printed in any p-stani news paper?

  • Charu says:

    Good cop, bad cop routine. Face-saving gesture after the US got pwned over Davis. The Pakistani military often turns up the heat in the virulent Pakistani media and then turns it down whenever it suits them. Just like the attacks on NATO supply trucks or mobs attacking US consulates; all dialed in by the ISI.

  • Yes — the original story came in a Pakistani newspaper and we ran an editorial on it
    Omar R Quraishi
    Editorial Pages Editor
    The Express Tribune

  • naresh c says:

    Looks like debt payments are coming due for the bankrupt Pakistani nation. The corrupt Pakistani generals need money. I look forward to the North Waziristan operation.

  • Neo says:

    Has there been any real reaction to this in the Pakistani press?
    At some point much of the populous gives a shoulder shrug and says


Islamic state



Al shabaab

Boko Haram