US launches drone strike in North Waziristan

The US killed five suspected “militants” in the latest drone strike in Pakistan’s jihadist haven of North Waziristan. The strike is just the second by the US in Pakistan this month.

The CIA-operated, remotely piloted Predators or Reapers fired a pair of missiles at a compound “believed to be a hideout of suspected militants” in the Datta Khel area of North Waziristan, Xinhua reported.

Pakistani officials told Dawn that five “militants,” including an unnamed “high value target,” were killed in the strike. Al Qaeda, the Taliban, the Haqqani Network, and other jihadist groups known to operate in the area have not released a statement announcing the death of any of the groups’ leaders.

The Pakistani government, which has condemned US drone strikes in the past, including a Nov. 11 strike in Datta Khel, has not released a statement on today’s attack. Several “foreign militants” were reported killed in the Nov. 11 airstrike.

The Datta Khel area of North Waziristan is one of several hubs for al Qaeda and other jihadist groups in North Waziristan. Some of al Qaeda’s top leaders have been killed by drone strikes in the area, including Mustafa Abu Yazid, Abdullah Said al Libi, and Zuhaib al Zahibi. [See LWJ report, ‘Foreign militants’ reported killed in latest US drone strike in Pakistan, for more information on Datta Khel.]

The Datta Khel area is administered by Hafiz Gul Bahadar, the top Taliban commander for North Waziristan. Bahadar provides shelter to senior al Qaeda leaders as well as terrorists from numerous Pakistani and Central Asian terror groups.

The US has launched 19 drone strikes inside Pakistan this year. Nine of those strikes have taken place in Datta Khel.

All 19 strikes have taken place since June 11. The US drone program in Pakistan was put on hold from the end of December 2013 up until June 11, 2014, as the Pakistani government attempted to negotiate a peace deal with the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, an al Qaeda-linked group that wages jihad in Afghanistan and seeks to overthrow the Pakistani state.

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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