US drone strike inside Pakistan targets ‘Afghan extremist’

The US wounded an “Afghan extremist” in an airstrike in Pakistan’s tribal agency of Kurram today. The US counterterrorism operation is the first of its kind reported inside Pakistan in 2018.

The strike took place in the “Badshah Kot area near the Pak-Afghan border” and wounded an “Afghan extremist” known as Khalid, Pakistani officials told Dawn. That report was confirmed by The Express Tribune, which described Khalid as a suspected “Afghan militant” and said the home that Khalid was in was “completely destroyed.”

Today’s strike was the first recorded inside Pakistan since Dec. 26, when US drones killed Jamiuddin, a jihadist who helped fighters move from Pakistan to Afghanistan. Jamiuddin was reportedly a “trusted man” in within the Haqqani Network, a subgroup of the Afghan Taliban. That strike also took place in Kurram.

Over the last two years, Kurram has become a focus of US counterterrorism strikes within Pakistan. The US has launched 12 such attacks inside Pakistan since Dec. 2016; seven of them have occurred inside Kurram, according to data compiled by FDD’s Long War Journal. The last five US strikes have all taken place inside Kurram.

Elements of the Haqqani Network, including Sirajuddin Haqqani, relocated to Kurram in 2014 after the Pakistani military telegraphed a planned operation to root out the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan’s network in North Waziristan. Sirajuddin is the operational commander of the Haqqani Network and serves as one of the Taliban’s two deputy emirs as well as its military commander.

For perspective on how much the US has focused in on Kurram, the US launched 389 strikes inside Pakistan from 2004 through 2015 and only five of those occurred in Kurram. Instead, more than 95 percent of the 389 strikes inside Pakistan between 2004-2015 took place inside the tribal agencies of North and South Waziristan, which are known hotbeds of numerous Taliban groups as well as global jihadist organizations such as al Qaeda.

As a whole, drone strikes in Pakistan have tapered off significantly since the peak of operations against al Qaeda’s leadership and allied jihadist groups in 2010, when 117 strikes were recorded. In 2015, the US launched only 11 drone attacks. In 2016, there were only three more, including the one that killed Mullah Mansour, the previous emir of the Afghan Taliban in May. That strike was the was the final one of 2016 and the last of President Obama’s second term. However, after President Trump took office, the number of strikes inside Pakistan increased to eight in 2017.

Trump has vowed to take a tougher line on Pakistan. In an August speech, he called out the country for providing safe haven and support for the Afghan Taliban and other terrorist groups in the region. On Jan. 1, Trump ramped up the pressure on Pakistan and increased the likelihood that the US would step up its air campaign after accusing the country of returning US aid with “nothing but lies & deceit” while continuing to provide the Afghan Taliban a “safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan.”

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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  • Dick Scott says:

    As previously noted, the wrong assumption of Trump and his administration is that Pakistan ever had control of the tribal areas FATA. They never have and never will, like the British were there for some 100 years and never had control either, which resulted in setting up FATA, which the Pakistanis adopted at the time of independence. And Kurram Agency has frequently been a focus because it has a main trail/route into Afghanistan which was a primary route of the mujahidin at the time the Soviets were dumb enough to be in Afghanistan. We must try to learn from history.

  • irebukeu says:

    In my opinion, Trump’s talk tough but do little approach is going to make the situation worse.
    He campaigned on leaving Afghanistan to the region and letting the Russians fight in Syria.
    Its time to let the Chinese absorb the cost of Afghanistan. Somehow they have been left out of all the fun. They expect to make profit at some point, They bought the rights from Karzai and they WILL expect their resources. Let them come get them now and protect the Afghans convoys as they go to and fro. Suddenly the part of Afghanistan that the Afghans denied, refused and eventually had to be paid to accept as their nation, becomes a lifeline.
    Leave this to the region like Trump promised. Make America Great Again-not Afghanistan.

    Karzai is going around now, bad-mouthing the United States. He will be there when reality happens to say ‘I told you so’.
    Lets just go now.

    Here is a quote from him. “The biggest threat to Afghanistan is the U.S. and Pakistan combined,” he says, “I don’t see them separately. I’ve dealt with both of them. They’ve been cooperating all along.… My opposition has always been to the foreign rule in Afghanistan, as it is today.” HA! No wonder he hated Joe Biden. Hes an Afghan version of him.
    Sounds like he is ready for an outreach to Hekmatyar, form a national front. Hey, why not? Once we are out- who really cares?
    Another quote that seems pretty reasonable, except that there will be no peace for Afghans in the near future.
    “Once it was the British, then the Soviet Union, then it was Pakistan…. We don’t get exhausted — they get exhausted and leave,” he says. “Now the Americans must decide whether they want to eventually get exhausted and leave or respect our sovereignty and the life of the Afghan people and allow the country to have peace.
    Quotes are from

  • As they release Sufi Mohammed, Pakistan continues to show that they will do all they can for terrorism, Placating the U.S. is over. This idiot was responsible for hundreds of deaths of soldiers and civilians during his little insurrection. Why should he be released to incite his followers even further because he’s “dying every day” ? Who the heck isn’t? He should have seen a firing squad!

  • chandrashekar says:

    It is the responsibility of everyone in the field to come sit and talk for establishment of democracy in Afghanistan. Whatever happen happened. Pakistan should remove its ego of Proxy Domination of Afghanistan. All the actors coming together is need of hour


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