US drones kill 17 in first strike in Pakistan in nearly a month

The US targeted the Haqqani Network, a Taliban subgroup that is closely tied to al Qaeda, in the first strike in Pakistan in more than three weeks.

The CIA-operated, remotely piloted Predators or the more deadly Reapers fired four missiles at a compound in the village of Danday Darpa Khel near Miramshah in the Taliban-controlled tribal agency of North Waziristan, The Associated Press reported.

Pakistani officials told the news agency that four Haqqani Network members were killed and two more were wounded. Reuters later reported that 17 people, most of whom were Haqqani Network fighters, were killed in the airstrike.

The target of the strike has not been disclosed, and no senior Haqqani, Taliban, or al Qaeda commanders are reported to have been killed at this time. Haji Shahrifullah, a senior Haqqani network commander in the area, was not killed in the attack, according to Dawn.

Danday Darpa Khel is a known hub of the Haqqani Network. Two of the group’s top leaders have been killed in US drone strikes in the village over the past several years. On Oct. 13, 2011, a strike killed Jan Baz Zadran, a top-level coordinator for the Haqqani Network who has been described as the organization’s third in command. Jan Baz was a key deputy to Sirajuddin Haqqani, the operational commander of the terror network.

On Feb. 18, 2010, US drones killed Mohammed Haqqani, one of the 12 sons of Jalaluddin Haqqani, the patriarch of the family. Mohammed served as a military commander for the Haqqani Network.

The Haqqani Network is a powerful Taliban faction that operates in eastern, central, and northern Afghanistan, and is based in North Waziristan in Pakistan. The terror group has close links with al Qaeda, and is supported by Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI). Siraj leads the Miramshah Shura, one of four major Taliban regional councils. Siraj is also a member of al Qaeda’s Shura Majlis, or executive council, US intelligence officials have told The Long War Journal.

Since 2008, nine top Haqqani Network leaders, including Sirajuddin, have been placed on the US list of terrorists; six of them were designated in 2011. All of them have ties to al Qaeda. Jalaluddin has not been added to the list. For more information on the Haqqani Network, see LWJ report, US adds Haqqani Network to list of terror groups.

Despite the known presence of al Qaeda and other foreign groups in North Waziristan, and requests by the US that action be taken against these groups, the Pakistani military has indicated that it has no plans to take on the al Qaeda-linked Haqqani Network or Hafiz Gul Bahadar, another powerful Taliban leader who operates in the tribal agency. The Haqqanis and Bahadar and are considered “good Taliban” by the Pakistani military establishment as they do not carry out attacks inside Pakistan.

Today’s strike is just the second since President Barack Obama’s speech at the end of May outlining a reduced US counterterrorism role in the world. Obama said that the drones, which are currently operated by the CIA, will eventually be turned over to the military, and that the pace of the strikes will be reduced. Obama claimed that al Qaeda has been sufficiently weakened, despite the fact that the terrorist organization has expanded its operations in Pakistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Egypt, and in North and West Africa.

The strike today in North Waziristan is the first by the US inside Pakistan in 25 days. The last US strike took place on June 7, when US drones killed six terrorists in a strike in North Waziristan. A “high value target” was reported to have been killed, but was never named. The previous strike, on May 29, killed Waliur Rehman, the top Taliban commander in South Waziristan who was closely allied with al Qaeda.

The US has launched 16 drone strikes in Pakistan so far this year, according to data compiled by The Long War Journal. The number of strikes in Pakistan has decreased since a peak in 2010, when 117 such attacks were recorded. In 2011, 64 strikes were launched in Pakistan, and in 2012 there were 46 strikes.

The US has targeted al Qaeda’s top leaders and its external operations network, as well as the assortment of Taliban and Pakistani jihadist groups operating in the region. The strikes have been confined mostly to North and South Waziristan. Of the 340 strikes recorded since 2004, 323, or 95%, have taken place in the two tribal agencies.

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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  • Gerald says:

    Four less Murderers in the world is a good thing!! way to go CIA/USAF!!

  • KaneKaizer says:

    If the pace of the strikes is to be reduced, then each and every one of them NEEDS to take out a HVT. Otherwise there’s no point in doing them at all.

  • JT says:

    According to an update from Dawn, there are more killed, with a particular target involved.

  • mike merlo says:

    It looks like the wheels are getting ready to come off the Morsi’s Presidency in Egypt. The Muslim Brotherhood will fight to the death before they allow a repeat of 1952. Who ever is responsible for managing the Drones’ best be ready to shift to Egypt & the greater Middle East. So much for the Administration’s banana peel Pivot to Asia.
    To bad for the newly elected Prime Minister Sharif of Pakistan. Just when it looks like he’s given the Green Light to Drone Strikes in Pakistan Egypt comes along to steal his ‘Thunder.’
    If Egypt does come apart at the seams, which now looks more than possible, Zawahiri will probably pop up somewhere in its vicinity. Besides getting his grubby paws on Pakistan’s Nuclear Arsenal or parts of it Egypt has always been his primary objective.
    Wow! Right when one thinks things couldn’t get any crazier “along comes a spider.” These Muslims sure are a highly entertaining lot. One other thing is certain is that these guys sure don’t lack for trying.

  • mike merlo says:

    This interesting:
    // = 18 killed
    // = 16 killed
    // = 17 killed
    // = 12 or 17 killed
    // = 17 killed
    Plus TLWJ was the 1st to Post notice on the Drone Strike. Though TLWJ may have been short on the final number determined to have been killed due to their rapidity of having received & posting of info their accuracy as to the nature of the reported action certainly isn’t in dispute. That’s pretty impressive.
    I guess the recent attacks in Kabul can be considered traced, fixed & dusted.

  • kafantaris says:

    Semiautonomous Taliban regions and Pakistan sovereignty cannot coexist. Either the country reigns in on its militants, or affected outsiders will continue to do so.
    Besides, with the Taliban weakened Pakistan can bring central government to more of its lands. Otherwise, the semiautonomous regions will overrun neighboring towns — one after another.
    Has Pakistan forgotten that the Taliban did just that three years ago?
    Or that that they have been doing no different in Afghanistan for decades?
    The Taliban is the hydra of both countries and both countries need help to cut the hydra heads off.

  • Craig says:

    But what of blowback? Not winning hearts and minds with the drones…

  • Moose says:

    I believe you mean Waliur Rehman was killed May 29 (third paragraph from the bottom).

  • Most of the world has been calling this the attack of the US terror drone. And not the, “Great heroic drone and the drone pilot and the forces of US.”
    The problem with Pakistan is that eons ago, they fell in the trap of taking aid from US. US always gives aid only with strings attached. And now they are stuck with it.
    US is using the same tactic today in Egypt. They are supplying aid to the Egyptian military, when they need it. But everything comes for a price. Egypt will become like pakistan in sometime, and you’d eventually have the US bases in Egypt as well.
    Anyways getting back to the topic of the drones. While the americans and the serving military families are all very patriotic and stuff, just like the Germans were once upon a time (watch any movie depicting the Germans from WW II, and you’ll know what I mean.) These drones are being called the terror drones. I mean yeah its good to be patriotic and all. But sometimes you just get so blinded by power. US was lucky enough to develop during the old “Great economic depression.” cause US was physically seprate from the rest of Europe. They used it to their advantage at that time.
    But the US should realize, that they have been making too many enemies lately. And maybe US is very strong, but when it becomes US and rest of the world. US will become = germany of the ww II.
    This just reminds me of the story of the male deer: Male Deers Are Born To Live Fast, Die Young.
    I mean, people are great, but countries sadly, democratic or communist aren’t run by the people. They are run by few people who all think the same, and thats why they are in that place first of all.
    At the end of it all, a common man dies and suffers, just like you me, or even the soldier, who doesn’t even know what he or she is fighting for. Some of them are there just for the heck of it, cause they like playing Call of Duty Modern Warfare on the Xbox.
    And they think they are being patriotic. But in reality, its just one man killing another man, for some other man (or men, who have the lust for power – the politicians – they are all the same, every single one of them, give them power and salutes thats all they want)

  • Bill Roggio says:

    Thanks, Moose. I have corrected that. Nazir was obviously killed in January.

  • sundoesntrise says:,
    It has **always** been the case that war has been fought on someone else’s behalf. Usually the ones giving the orders are never the ones on the frontlines themselves. No matter under what pretext war is fought under, there are always going to be other interests that just happen to be in the general area of where a certain war is being fought. I don’t want to go into examples but I’m sure everyone can understand what I mean by that.
    There are still jingoistic patriotic folk that may detest my words, but more and more people these days are really starting to question what’s going on with the military and intelligence services. In 2013 people have a right not only to question religion, but wars and government policies as well.
    The U.S. cannot and should not be in a far corners of the world wasting taxpayer dollars on unpopular ventures meanwhile people are going on food stamps in mainland U.S. Yes terrorism should be tackled but after 10 years of casualties, money wasted, and a Muslim population that despises us, it’s time to rethink our strategy and lighten our regional footprint.
    We all respect our military forces for what they have done, and what they have tried to do. But the best way to respect the military is to not get them involved in pointless wars with a primitive culture. They are worth more than that.

  • GhaznawiGhilzai says:

    The Pakistanis do not understand the drone attacks because the insurgents are fueled by Islamic extremism that has created Pakistan, it is in the fabric of Pakistan, and it is Pakistan’s national narrative. Operations in North and South Waziristan are operations to control Pashtons, the same operation that has been going on to control the Baluchs, and the same operation by Pakistani elites to control the Kashmiris. That operation has nothing to do with combating Muslim extremism. On the other hand, the drone operation may be an indication that the United States has finally realized the duplicity of Pakistan elite-government-army, and in that matter of pursuing terrorists, follows the true lead independently and without consideration of the self serving duplicitous Pakistani advice. If Pakistan wants to combat Islamic extremist terrorists, they should handover the wanted Islamic terrorists in Kashmir to India, and Haqani and Mulla Omar to Afghanistan, and should down all the extremist factories in the Madrassa system of Pakistan. Anyone with the slightest knowledge of the region who observes the Pakistani elite and politicians make these fake demands to stop the drone attack , and watch Pakistan elite-government-army’s protest on behalf of the Waziri’s and the Pashtons, will laugh hard and knows that the Pakistani elite-government-army who have continued the suppression of Pashton and Baluch since Pakistan’s artificial birth in the name of Islam in 1947, are never sincere about Pashton and Baluch population of the region.

  • Moose says:

    Very well-said. I’ve been saying the same thing on this site for almost a year, but it falls on deaf ears. Pakistan has always played the divide-and-conquer game extremely well. The Pakistani elites created a national identity around Islamic extremism so that their fake country didn’t fall apart. At the same time, they militarily suppressed their minority populations or caused infighting among them (the Pashtun paramilitary force known as the “Frontier Corp” is a good example of causing Pashtun-on-Pashtun conflict). Everyone should understand that Pakistan is a Punjabi-dominated country that maintains a balance with its minority populations by all means necessary.
    Some Indian posters on this site like Charu and Vyom understand this quite well, but Westerners have fallen for Pakistan’s lies for way too long. Those lies include controlling Afghanistan for strategic depth with India (one of their most laughable cons) and that Pakistan is in danger of being overrun by Islamic fundamentalists (a narrative that gets pushed when they need more U.S. aid).
    Long-term, Pakistan’s strategy is to annex Afghanistan. Its population is expected to reach 300 million by 2050 and it can’t fit that many people within its borders. The Taliban were the first phase of that strategy before 9/11 derailed their plans. Pakis will continue to launder their drug and terrorist operations through Afghanistan to make Afghans look bad to the world. Then they’ll say, “Look, we told you they’re pariahs, let us handle them.” It’s a Paki M.O. that I witnessed repeatedly when I worked for an NGO in Afghanistan. Harass the Afghans, tell the Western managers that Afghans can’t do the job, get them fired, and move a Paki into the organization to replace them. Classic Paki tactic.

  • SIDNEY says:

    he Taliban is the hydra of both countries and both countries need help to cut the hydra.They are run by few people who all think the same, and thats why they are in that place first of al.Thanks, Moose


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