US drones target Haqqani Network in North Waziristan strike

The US killed three Haqqani Network members in a strike today in Pakistan’s Taliban-controlled tribal agency of North Waziristan. The strike is just the third in Pakistan this month.

The CIA-operated, remotely piloted Predators or the more deadly Reapers fired a pair of missiles at a compound in the village of Darga Mandi in the Ghulam Khan area of North Waziristan, Pakistani security officials told AFP. The identities of the fighters who were killed have not been disclosed.

Today’s strike in Darga Mandi is the second in the village this month, and the third strike in Pakistan in September. On Sept. 5, the US killed four Haqqani Network fighters in a strike in the village. Mullah Sangeen Zadran, a senior Haqqani network leader, is rumored to have been killed in the strike. His death has not been confirmed.

Over the past year, the Haqqani Network has been in the crosshairs of the CIA. The US killed a Haqqani Network leader known as Maulana Akhtar Zadran along with Abu Saif al Jaziri, an al Qaeda military commander from the Lashkar al Zil, in a drone strike in North Waziristan on July 2. And earlier this month, the Taliban confirmed that Badruddin Haqqani, a top leader of the group, was killed in a US drone attack in August 2012.

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. Siraj is the operational commander of the Haqqani Network and 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 Haqqani, the patriarch of the group, is also a senior Afghan Taliban leader, but 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 Haqqani Network or allied Taliban commander Hafiz Gul Bahadar. The Haqqanis and Bahadar’s fighters are considered “good Taliban” by the Pakistani military establishment as they do not carry out attacks inside Pakistan. In June 2012, Bahadar banned polio vaccinations in North Waziristan, in protest against US drone strikes.

The US has launched 22 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 347 strikes recorded since 2004, 337, or 97%, have taken place in the two tribal agencies. But al Qaeda is known to have an extensive network throughout Pakistan.

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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12 Comments

  • nick says:

    i noticed the last couple of drone strikes came after green on blue attacks. With drone strikes becoming fewer and farther in-beteween, I wonder if those green on blue’s are the only real political excuse we can use with the Pakistani govt for our drone strikes. Its obvious the new government there has more of a hardline with the drones than the PPP had and we don’t want to risk cutting our cheapest supply routes with the 2014 pullout so close.

  • Carol Anne Grayson says:

    In case you missed it recent bombings in Peshawar church and market were in retaliation for drone strikes… denied by TTP… Its about time these terrible casualty figures were added to drone victim numbers, have written to US rapporteur on this matter. US is creating yet more violence with every strike… totally counter productive, hence APC decision to try for dialogue with militants and approach UN on drones. In Peshawar one man lost 18 of his family.. Anti-drone campaigners have continually warned of revenge attacks and to avoid addressing this is to ignore culture of tribal areas that have for centuries avenged killings. Note Nanga Parbat, the killing of mountaineers was also retaliation for drones… and I fear this will not only continue but escalate. US has also managed to cause divisions within the Pakistan armed forces over drones… to the point where according to my late journalist colleague some within were actively recruiting insurgent sympathizers…

  • Bill Roggio says:

    Carol Anne Grayson,
    So Pakistanis take revenge on the US for drone strikes by … indiscriminately killing innocent Pakistanis?
    Was the Taliban takeover of much of the NWFP by 2007 and the slaughter and oppression of tens of thousands of Pakistanis a reaction to drone strikes?
    Did you ever stop to think that maybe, just maybe, those being targeted in the drone program are actually very bad people?
    Do you know how many times the Pakistani military and government cut peace deals with the Taliban, only to watch the same Taliban cast aside the deals and grab more & more?
    Just some food for thought.

  • Carol Grayson says:

    Were all the children killed by drones very bad people? How many times over the years has US interfered in other countries, be it Panama, most Central American countries, Vietnam, Iraq and caused havoc… dividing populations more and more… stoked a terrible rage and revenge… I wonder how many people posting have actually lived through any form of US “collateral damage” that has unlawfully killed their family members and destroyed communities… US wants to “save” Iraq or Afghanistan and can’t even manage its own budget… has failing healthcare, suicidal soldiers and internal unrest… sort out your own backyard… US is hated by many for its foreign policy. US has created much of the unrest, used groups when it suited them, failed to abide by human rights legislation… yet preaches to the rest of the world.. Think on this…
    Americas claiming it’s broke
    So funding of drones is a joke
    Each missile that’s sent
    Could be money better spent
    Time that the government awoke!

  • Bill Roggio says:

    Thank you for your unserious discussion, for dodging the questions pertinent to the issue at hand, and concluding with a lame “poem” or whatever that was.

  • Carol Anne Grayson says:

    I will tell you whats serious the damage done to young people in the Tribal Areas, thousands being displaced because of America’s war. Children having their education disrupted. The distress that doctors see at hospitals in Peshawar from those traumatised by drones, afraid to go out. Kids growing up to hate America. They are caught between a rock and a hard place, the military and the militants. Let’s not forget the enforced disappearances, many ordinary people caught up in WOT but never charged…detained with no legal representation some sold to US. How many at Gitmo have never been charged, cleared for release and still waiting… The only way Pakistan has a chance is to disengage from the US is to stop taking funding and get rid of those on Pakistan’s soil stirring up internal trouble. I know how the US violates human rights and hides its wrongdoing, have been on the receiving end!

  • Mr T says:

    Carol, Stop blaming America first. We don’t want to be in any other country in the world but evil exists and most people don’t have the ability to fight it. The US has been the savior of many oppressed people around the world. We sacrifice for them with our own blood and treasure to fight evil. We are a force of good in the world.
    Perhaps your energies would be better spent advising the bad people in the world to stop the evil. You can start with the Taliban, then work your way through some dictatorships, finally ending with some corrupt leaders in various countries and regions around the world. The US is the last place you would end up at.

  • Ghost says:

    @Bill
    I will answer your questions which Carol didnt answer.
    regarding the indiscriminate killing. that’s a false statement. the Taliban or other mojahideen fighters in Pakistan when they target their targets, they make sure it is legal targets in their eyes. I would say usually they would attack people that US would care about.
    about Taliban takeover of much of the NWFP by 2007, so what? who gave you and the Americans the authority to interfere with pakistan’s internal issues? America is not the father of the world to decide who should rule and how, unless you are coming from imperialistic background, which history tells us that every empire has an end.
    Last but not least, who decides what is bad or good? you decide? me? your father? or your government? have you ever thought about that? or you are simply comfortable about the programming done to you since childhood on who is bad and who is good?
    Now i have some questions for you, if you are up to it.
    1: where do you see this is going? (i mean this war on terror)
    2: how many have US drones killed from their targets compared to the innocent people that have done nothing wrong to AMERICA?
    3: do you think killing one Taliban member is a justification to kill around 5 times more innocent people? if yes, then how are you exactly the good guys?
    4: how many trillions of dollars has AMERICA spent since 9/11 on her war on terror (Islam)?
    5: compare the situation of Al-Qaida before 9/11 to nowadays. has Al-Qaida demolished or expanded? have they grown in numbers or shrunk? have they lost their abilities to make weapons and fighters or lost it? have they expanded their ideology or it vanished?
    6: what defines victory and loss in this war on terror that Bush started?
    I think that you people need to rethink of what is the WRONG you are doing to the world, and maybe better start helping the homeless and the poor which the banks and big corporations keeps sucking.
    America now is in a much worse situation than before 9/11. If you keep going like the bleeding bull in the red direction, you will end up losing a lot of blood and strength. Eventually, the American empire will collapse like all other empires, but America will collapse much faster than the other empires at this pace.
    Japan has a great economy and education. Yet, they are not invading other countries. Maybe USA should learn something from Japan and Germany, and start making better products for the world than weapons and drugs that kills the world.

  • Bill Roggio says:

    Well, Ghost, I’d think that most Pakistanis, ones with any sense of decency, would be horrified that the Taliban bombs mosques, churches, hospitals, markets, schools, etc. and intentionally kill their own countrymen. But from where I sit, that just doesn’t seem to be the case. When I see Pakistani lawyers showing the murderer of a governor with rose petals because he thought blasphemy laws were wrong, I can’t help but be a bit suspicious.
    My point about 2007 was to counter Ms. Grayson’s argument that the US somehow created these retaliatory attacks. The fact is these attack began long before the drone program was ramped up (that happened in mid-2008, partially because the Taliban took over large swathes of the then NWFP).
    I won’t answer your question point by point. I track the drone strikes and count the numbers, it is iffy at best, but according to our count, far more terrorists than civilians are killed. The US is targeting al Qaeda, Taliban, etc, who are involved with targeting the West, the 9/11 attack, etc. while the Taliban intentionally targets its own countrymen (well maybe not to them, but they should be to other rational Pakistanis). The US has killed some of these monsters in drone strikes: Baitullah Mehsud, Ibn Amin, Ilyas Kashmiri, numerous Haqqanis, I could go on and on.
    Unfortunately, the Pakistani government (read: military) is uninterested in policing their own territory. Do you really think Americans want to be in Afghanistan and launching attacks in Pakistan? Look at how tired Americans are of war, and how the government wants to fold up shop. If the US is “imperialist”, then it is awful at it. Like all that oil the US govt stole from Iraq, right? More like War for Oil for China.
    One thing we can agree on, the US overall strategy against Islamist terror groups has been a failure, and al Qaeda has metastasized. And as I have argued numerous times in the past, the Obama admin has misused the drone program, and substituted a tactic (killing leaders) for a real strategy.

  • Mr T says:

    Of course if the Taliban and Al Qaeda and Pakistanis abhor all the killing, they could surrender and turn in their arms. What a concept.

  • Phineas Worthington says:

    Mr. Roggio,
    I found you on the John Batchelor show. I am so impressed with your work. Please keep up the good job you do.
    Ms. Grayson is a confused person. The threat of radical Islam is very real. And the most important purpose of our government is to abate those threats.
    I cannot imagine how hard it must be to report on this secret war. I appreciate all the hard work, fact based reporting, and thoughtful analysis you and all your colleagues create and publish.
    Phineas Worthington

  • JT says:

    “Children having their education disrupted.”
    Have you stopped to think about exactly what the education system and women’s rights are in that part of the world? They were non-existent in Afghanistan under the Taliban.
    Pakistan is on the right track with education and women’s rights, but claiming that being nice to civilization’s enemies will make them back off is ludicrous.
    The Muslim fanatics kill because they want all to be Muslim, worldwide. Just ask the relatives of those slain in Kenya recently. It is a world wide problem and “playing nice” doesn’t help that.

Iraq

Islamic state

Syria

Aqap

Al shabaab

Boko Haram

Isis