Drone strike killed Haqqani Network, Afghan Taliban commanders

According to reports from Pakistan, the two drone strikes that took place near Miramshah in North Waziristan over the past 24 hours killed a Haqqani Network commander, and two “prominent” Afghan Taliban military commanders. From Dawn:

A key Haqqani Network commander Haji Gul was killed in the early morning US drone strike in Dand-i Darpakhel area of North Waziristan Agency, Dawn News quotes sources as saying on Thursday.

The drone strike also killed other prominent Afghan Taliban commanders identified as Mufti Sofian and Commander Abu Bakar.

Intelligence and local Taliban sources also confirmed that the drone strikes in Dand-i-Darpakhel targeted some explosive laden vehicles which were meant for some mission across the border.

The sources also believe that the militant group was preparing a squad and about to leave when it was attacked.

Some other commanders killed in the strike have been identified as Commander Yasin Gardezi, Abdullah Khan, Commander Jamil, Commander Asadullah. Their driver Noor Khan was also killed.

The local Taliban and tribesmen have also confirmed that the compound targeted belonged to members of the Afghan Taliban network.

The interesting thing about this report is that no top al Qaeda leaders or operatives are said to have been killed in the strike. As US intelligence officials told The Long War Journal yesterday after the drone strikes, there is no shortage of dangerous jihadists in Pakistan.

So why did the US break a nearly six-month-long pause in strikes in Pakistan to target what appears to be mid-level Haqqani Network and Taliban leaders who were plotting to launch attacks in Afghanistan? Did they “present an ‘imminent’ threat of violent attack against the United States,” as a US Department of Justice white paper stated was required for targeting with drones?

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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  • Anthony Celso says:

    The Administration’s moratorium is just plain stupid. It was supposed to give the Pakistani government the room to maneuver a peace deal with the Taliban. Big surprise, it failed.! Since the President’s second term the Administration has pursued so many myopic policies one must question their sanity at this point. This President has been badly served by what must be the worst set of foreign policy advisors in recent history. They exacerbate his deep fatalism recently expressed in his banal and defensive West Point address.

  • john says:

    Totally disagree with Bill. The moratorium was not stupid. It came at the request of Pakistan, to enable “peace” dialog with the Taliban. It doesn’t mean that the drones were not flown, just that they didn’t drop any missiles but were actively engaged in surveillance. Meanwhile, the Pakistan – Taliban peace negotiation fell apart.
    The Haqqanni commanders killed in this strike were said to be the same group that had captured Bergdahl. So it is clear that by getting him back freed the scene for resumed drone attacks on his captors, and preventing a likely attack on the Afghan presidential candidates from this Pakistani compound.
    In my opinion, the President is doing a very credible job in balancing our strategic interests. This is a difficult time in history. There are so many good things to credit his administration, it’s hard to understand your prejudice.

  • Jeff Edelman says:

    The manner in which these terrorist organizations are structured it may be more disruptive to kill those at mid level. Whatever level, the level they have attained now is the most suitable.
    Oh, and to John: Bovine scatology!

  • kush dragon says:

    I doubt this was just a totally random attack on an inconsequential group of operatives. These guys were about to do something big, like kidnap another soldier or attack the elections. That said Pakistan has obviously given the US a little leeway to lob a few missiles after the airport attack.

  • Eric says:

    Well, I guess the Pakistani peace talks are over. Taliban retains its perfect record of betraying every promise and assurance they ever spoke to the people.
    If we are allowed to resume strikes, we should go after the Haqqanis with all the fresh intel. Like it was Shark Week.
    The described target strangely resembles the recent assassination bombing attempt against Abdullah Abdullah in Kabul a short while ago. I guess the Pakistani ISI will have to wait a little longer to murder the head of state next-door.
    If there were indeed strikes carried out against this Haqqani network and Afghan Taliban group and against another team of LeT, IMU and Punjabi Taliban targeting the group that undertook an attack on the Jinnah Airport in Karachi – within hours of each other.
    How that reads: On-going surveillance of the group trying to kill Afghanistan’s next president, but no permission to strike. Phone call out-of-the-blue. Its the general from the Pak ISI urgently requesting the strike on the IMU team. USA shrugs, figures “M’kay” and lets fly, seizing opportunity to do the other thing at the same time.
    Or maybe its just a coincidence.

  • RickP says:

    It kinda makes you wonder that we were able to bomb such targets so soon after being allowed to do so. Could this be another example of the ISI knowing where all these people are but not allowing us to hit them without permission?

  • James Albright says:

    The strikes and the kills were probalby the Darwinians child like response to the response they received for releasing 5 Taliban commanders for a US defector.


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