A US raid captures Taliban in North Waziristan?

Two unconfirmed reports from Pakistan today claim that “NATO” forces in two helicopters crossed from Afghanistan into Pakistan’s tribal agency of North Waziristan, snatched five Taliban/Haqqani Network members, and took them back across the border into Afghanistan. The reports differ: Xinhua claimed five leaders from the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan were captured, while The Nation said five Haqqani Network operatives were captured.

From Xinhua:

Unconfirmed news from intelligence sources said on Monday that five Pakistan Taliban ( TTP) leaders were arrested Monday morning in the Gorvait area of North Waziristan by NATO forces and later taken away by two NATO helicopters to Afghanistan.

According to the sources who asked to remain anonymous, the action was taken by the NATO forces without informing the Pakistani government. If so, this is another Abbottabad-like operation taken by the foreign forces on the Pakistani soil without the knowledge of the Pakistani side.

Political agent of North Waziristan also confirmed the news.

And from The Nation:

Sources said that two NATO choppers entered the Pakistani airspace to hunt militants in border area of North Waziristan Agency (NWA).

The NATO helicopters entered the border area, claiming that five members of Haqqani network have been arrested after the search operation.

A few points:

  1. I have no confirmation that this raid occurred.
  2. The two reports mentioned above have not been picked up beyond these two news outlets. Xinhua has a good track record in its reporting from Pakistan, while The Nation, a nationalist newspaper that occasionally reprints Afghan Taliban press releases without context, has a spotty record at best.
  3. A raid of this nature would not be carried out by regular ISAF forces; this would be conducted by Joint Special Operations Command, the same unit that killed Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad in northwestern Pakistan on May 2.
  4. There was a cross-border incident on May 17 in North Waziristan, but that incident involved ISAF Apache attack helicopters, which struck a Pakistani border outpost during an exchange of fire along the border. That did not appear to have been a snatch-and-grab operation, as no transport helicopters were reported to have been in the area.
  5. In order to carry out such a raid, the US would have to be sure that the chances of capturing a high-value target – at the level of Hakeemullah Mehsud or Siraj Haqqani – are very good. The raid that killed Osama bin Laden has caused serious divisions between the US and Pakistan, and the Pakistani military would come under enormous pressure from the political class and the public if another cross-border raid took place. Just today, Prime Minister Gilani said that “[u]nilateral acts like Abbottabad incident will not be acceptable to us,” according to the Daily Times.
  6. Another unconfirmed report from yesterday claims the Pakistani military is preparing for an operation in North Waziristan, but the operation would be limited to targeting the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan. The Haqqanis and Hafiz Gul Bahadar would not be targeted.

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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14 Comments

  • james says:

    Wow! If this did occur, it will be an interesting summer. For sure Pakistan is going to close the Torkham border crossing for sure

  • J,C. says:

    Very interesting. Thank you for reporting. Great news on this Memorial Day if reports are accurate. Now lets send this HVT(s) to Morocco so they can get medieval on him and extract some primo intel!

  • Marlin says:

    As Bill mentioned, Prime Minister Gilani said that “[u]nilateral acts like Abbottabad incident will not be acceptable to us,”. However, I think that tends to overlook what happened late last week. I understand that India has a biased position in what happens in Pakistan, but their perspective can be illuminating.

    Of equal significance was an agreement during the Clinton-Mullen visit to continue the presence of CIA personnel, special forces and counter-insurgency trainers in Pakistan, which appeared threatened after Raymond Davis, a CIA contractor, shot and killed two Pakistanis several months ago.
    Clinton said

  • kp says:

    One reasonable explanation for the lack of info is that the CIA is doing it properly this time and not revealing a capture until some time after the capture occurred.

    Clinton did hand over a list of the super HVT they believe are in Pakistan which I’m sure include the Haqqanis and the Mesud’s as well as AZ, MO and other top AQ) so that would incentivize the Pakistanis.

    But something is certainly happening (even if this raid is not on the money). I mentioned on the NW Offensive comments THe Nation leaked info about the capture of a group of Mehsuds in Abbotobad being “interviewed” by the CIA. Even if it is from the Nation it’s worth considering though not all of their stories are e.g. they also published a claim today that Mullah Baradhar told the CIA where UBL was with CIA memos being found in the UBL compound … that sounds like a Pakistani CT.

    So far only The Nation is reporting the Mesud’s capture so treat it with the appropriate grains of salt but it seems rather specific and doesn’t look great for the ISI or Army.

    I previously mentioned this but it gets even more interesting if you dig into the details.

    //nation.com.pk/pakistan-news-newspaper-daily-english-online/Politics/30-May-2011/3-highvalue-suspects-among-6-interrogated

    According to details exclusively available with this newspaper, the seven-member CIA team accompanied by two brigadier ranked officials of Pakistan Army had reportedly moved to an unknown location after examining the [UBL] hideaway during the morning hours of Friday in order to interrogate Abdullah Mehsud, brother of the slain rebellion terrorist Qari Zainuddin Mehsud and his two cousins Ali Shaban Masud and Zaryab Mehsud. All the three terrorists were reportedly arrested from the mountainous area of Jhangi Syedan located a couple of kilometers away from Abbottabad city. They were arrested sometime between May 9 to May 15 (this month

  • naresh c. says:

    I suspect, this will not even be given importance in the Pakistani media now. It is becoming embarrassing for the ISI.
    ISI tried to play up the drone attacks and the Raymond Davis episode in the Pakistani media, so that they could
    get leverage against US by showing ‘people’s reaction in Pakistan’. Many Pakistani journalists are on ISI payroll. It ended in a shouting match between Pasha and Panetta in Langley. Americans have called the ISI bluff and continued with the drone attacks and also did the Abbottabad raid. Playing up such episodes in the media has back-fired on the ISI. It had no impact on the US policy but Pakistanis are increasingly calling them inept.

  • KaneKaizer says:

    Amazing, if it’s true. I hope we got both Sirajuddin and Jalaluddin in this. Would be a major blow to the Taliban in Afghanistan.
    Although I suppose there are probably a whole lot of possible targets for capture in NW, I’m not sure how many others would be worth the risk to repeat the Abbottabad operation rather than hit them with drone strikes.

  • destab says:

    “Hope you enjoyed the flight suckers!!”
    Epic use of manpower and resources, that is if this has in fact happened 🙂
    Nato could quite justifiably, say one thing, and do another. Just like Pakistan.

  • Victor says:

    Wonderful news!
    ISAF should stop recognizing the Durand Line and treat the bad-lands of Pakistan as fair-game. This nonsense has been going on for a decade. Enough is enough.
    Let us take the fight to the enemy’s lair.

  • b-rock says:

    I’m sure this happens without PAK military knowing the deal. I mean we no the rat lines and have acess to the whole afghan border. Whereas the pakistani side is packed out with territory controlled by the enemy right there within range. OBL raid was deep inside our allies country making it a high profile situation. So creepin in a few miles with your ruck on or in the air to get some mid to high level bastard for some primo intel doesn’t surprise me. But I do love hearin about it cause thats what has to be done. Hit em where they feel safe.

  • Ben says:

    US wants Pakistan to eliminate the Haqqani network — which is based in North Waziristan and is one of its fiercest enemies just across the border in Afghanistan — in any North Waziristan operation. This is the reason that frequent drone strikes are directed against this region. On the other hand, Pakistan

  • Render says:

    KP – Mabrother, you’re going to make yourself crazy trying to keep track of the names, they’re all fake.
    Whiteboard and legal pads. Lots of legal pads…
    ABU
    ARMAGEDDON,
    R

  • S.J. says:

    Any new information on this? Haven’t seen a thing in the mainstream media.

  • Bill Roggio says:

    S.J.,
    See here: //www.longwarjournal.org/threat-matrix/archives/2011/06/pakistani_military_denies_nato.php
    PakMil denied it. For what that is worth. My opinion is that this did not happen.

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