US launches 2 drone strikes in Pakistan, breaks 6-month lull

The US killed 16 jihadists, including four Uzbeks, in two drone strikes in Pakistan’s tribal areas. The strikes ended a six-month pause in Pakistan.

In the first strike, the unmanned Predators or the more deadly Reapers fired several missiles at a compound and a vehicle in the village of Darga Mandi in Pakistan’s Taliban-controlled tribal agency of North Waziristan, Dawn reported. The village is just outside of Miramshah, the home of the Haqqani Network, a Taliban subgroup that is closely tied to al Qaeda.

Four “Uzbeks,” likely from the al Qaeda-allied Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, and two members of the Movement of the Taliban in Punjab were reported to have been killed in today’s strike.

The US has launched five other strikes in Darga Mandi since the drone program in Pakistan began in 2005. In one strike, on Sept. 5, 2013, the US killed Mullah Sangeen Zadran, the al Qaeda-linked Haqqani Network leader and Taliban shadow governor of Afghanistan’s Paktika province who held Bowe Bergdahl, the US soldier who was recently exchanged for five top Taliban leaders held at Guantanamo Bay.

In the second strike, which took place early on the morning of June 12, US drones fired six missiles at “four different compounds and a pick-up truck” in the village of Danda Darpa Khel in the Miramshah area of North Waziristan, Dawn reported. Ten “militants” are reported to have been killed in the attack. More than five drones are said to have circled the area during the strike.

The strikes took place just one day after both the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan and the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan claimed credit for the suicide assault on Jinnah International Airport in Karachi. The IMU, which claimed it attacked US aircraft being stored secretly at the airport, likely carried out the attack in conjunction with the Taliban. [See LWJ report, IMU involved in suicide assault on Karachi airport.]

Today’s drone strike is the first in Pakistan since Dec. 25, 2013. The US put the program on hold after the Pakistani government entered into peace talks with the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan.

Although US officials have claimed that the drone strikes were halted due to a lack of identifiable high-value targets in Pakistan, intelligence officials contacted by The Long War Journal said that is not the case.

“Pakistan remains a hub for al Qaeda and allied movements operating along the AfPak border and beyond,” one intelligence official said. “Al Qaeda’s General command is still operating there, and is staffed by a new and dangerous generation of leaders. Zawahiri and his staff are still operating in Pakistan.”

Part of the problem, another intelligence official observed, is that while the US has confined its strikes to the tribal areas, and particularly to North and South Waziristan, where al Qaeda has been active in the past, al Qaeda’s operations are not limited to those areas.

“We didn’t kill Osama bin Laden in North Waziristan, he was living comfortably in Abbottabad when the SEALs showed up,” the official said. “Do we think it is any different for Zawahiri?”

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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  • Eric says:

    No doubt in my mind this drone strike was urgently requested by Pakistan’s ISI, in retaliation for the Jinnah airport attacks in Karachi, and if true, would seem to confirm my suspicion that the attacks on Karachi were orchestrated by Lashkar-e-Taiba, and conducted by IMU fighters with local logistics supplied by the Punjabi Taliban. Try not to forget that Pakistan’s ISI actively supports these same militant groups to further the Pakistani state agendas in Afghanistan’s eastern provinces, and in Kashmir.
    Double-dealing has its downsides. Sharif’s government is being played by the Pak Army leadership to sink the peace talks with the Taliban, so everything can be returned to the previous status-quo. This is why Kabul will go through the same things Baghdad is going through now, two years from now when the US pulls all its forces out of Afghanistan, leaving rule of law in the hands of criminals, and the armed forces without adult supervision will be sleeping at their posts as Al Qaeda rolls into town.

  • Birbal Dhar says:

    Certainly not the Lashkar-e-Taiba, this was the work of the Pakistani Taliban in collaboration with the IMU

  • gitsum says:

    Nice trump card you got thier Pakistan, you’re welcome! Now quit dilly dallying around and finish these idiots off, instead of the double standard you adhere to.

  • Devendra Sood says:

    It is clear and beyond any doubt that the Pakis requested these strikes. The latest brazen attacks on the karachi Airport scared the crap out of the Paki Politicians and the Military. But, don’t expect the ingrate, hypocritical Pakis to say “Thank You, America.” Not in their Islamic genes.

  • Mr Wolf says:

    These attacks by drones are also more openly done due to the return of SGT Bergdahl. There was a reluctance to hit MiramShaw area due to too many possibilities that they could hit him or his compound.

  • Jaguar says:

    before going so far Drones should be deployed on ISI HQ and Army HQ to wipe out the troublesome elements who support Taliban from within Pakistani Army.

  • Dave says:

    Any chance this is where Bergdahl was being held?

  • Nick says:

    I don’t agree with doing Pakistans dirty work for them like some sort of state sponsored mercenary. Even if they are turds worthy of being killed. Doing the dirty work of a corrupt state like Pakistan is dangerous business.

  • Mr Wolf says:

    This was near the exact area where we SUSPECTED Sgt B was held. We had no idea closer than a week behind his movements. We did have ‘high probability’ that he was in MiramShaw, so that was less a target than it might have been. We didn’t mark it ‘no go’ but there WAS reluctance…

  • Jeff Edelman says:

    I read the story where some military official said the U.S. military was being measured in its fighting because of the traitor’s captivity. Does this really make sense? What would trigger the execution of the traitor? One bullet? One bomb? One drone buzzing overhead? A drone strike in Yemen? Somalia? Would there have been a D-Day in WWII if this was how the U.S. fought a war then? I think his statement will be shown to be the hogwash that it is.


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