Host Bill Roggio is joined by FDD Senior Fellow Behnam Ben Taleblu to disuss Behnam’s major new FDD Monograph — Arsenal: Assessing the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Ballistic Missile Program — including through the lens of Iran’s shadow war against Israel, AKA “the war between wars.”
After many years of conflict in Syria and Libya, the involvement of Turkey, Russia and other powers is leading to increasingly sophisticated clashes between the latest UAV and air defense technology. The use of new technology has ramifications for future conflicts in the Middle East and provides an emerging model for how regional powers are fighting proxy wars to redraw the balance of power in the region.
Beginning last year, the Houthis have launched dozens of drone strikes inside Saudi Arabia and Yemen. FDD’s Long War Journal has mapped these strikes.
The Houthi insurgents claimed hitting a southern Saudi airport with a cruise missile, as well as drone strikes.
The Pakistan government often criticizes US airstrikes that kill members of the Afghan Taliban, including Haqqani Network leaders.
US Africa Command launched airstrikes against the Islamic State in Libya for the first time in eight months. AFRICOM also revealed to FDD’s Long War Journal that an estimated 800 to 900 Islamic State fighters were killed during Operation Odyssey Lightning’s air campaign in Sirte last year.
The US-led coalition announced that three Islamic State figures were killed in airstrikes in Mayadin, Syria between Sept. 12 and 14. All three worked for the so-called caliphate’s drone program. The US has carried out a targeted air campaign against the group’s personnel in or near Mayadin since earlier this year.
CENTCOM announced today that “three senior foreign fighters” in the Islamic State were killed in recent weeks. Two of them were reportedly involved in the group’s “external operations” and one of them was a trainer in the “Cubs of the Caliphate” program, which indoctrinates youth. The third jihadist helped oversee the Islamic State’s use of small drones.
The UK Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee has released its investigative report on the Aug. 21, 2015 drone strike that killed UK national Reyaad Khan. The bombing was “the first time outside participation in a military campaign that the UK had conducted a lethal drone strike against a terrorist target.” Khan was one of the Islamic State’s most prolific cyber planners.
The Pakistani Taliban confirmed today that Qari Muhammad Yasin, a senior al Qaeda military commander, was killed along with three of his “companions” in a US drone strike on Mar. 19. The airstrike was carried out in Afghanistan’s eastern Paktika province. Yasin was a member of the Punjabi Taliban, which includes jihadists from various other Pakistani terrorist organizations who are aligned with al Qaeda.
Hay’at Tahrir al Sham (HTS), Ahrar al Sham, and the Free Syrian Army-affiliated Faylaq al Rahman launched a surprise offensive against Bashar al Assad’s regime in Damascus yesterday. HTS, an al Qaeda front group, has been stepping up its attacks in the Syrian capital in recent weeks.
The Islamic State’s Ninawa province has released a video highlighting its use of improvised weapons of war in the battle for Mosul, Iraq. The weapons include: vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices (VBIEDs) with armor attached, modified drones, and a remote-controlled rocket launcher. Children or young adolescents used as “martyrdom” bombers are also featured in the propaganda production.
The US killed al Qaeda veteran Abu al Khayr al Masri in a drone strike in Idlib, Syria in late February. Masri was identified as al Qaeda’s “general deputy” in July 2016. He worked to unite Syrian rebel groups under a common banner.
ODNI released some information on counterterrorism raids as part of an effort to provide more transparency on these operations. US intelligence claims that between 2,372 to 2,581 combatants and between 64 to 116 civilians were killed in 473 strikes in areas outside of Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria since President Obama took office.
“We remain committed to defeating AQAP and denying it safe haven regardless of its location,” CENTCOM said while announcing three previously undisclosed drone strikes.
Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and Al Nusrah Front have jointly issued a eulogy for Mullah Mansour, the Taliban’s chief leader. Mansour was killed in an American drone strike on May 21.
According to jihadists on social media and press reports, a prominent AQAP commander named Jalal Bala’idi was killed in a US drone strike launched last night. Bala’idi’s death has not been confirmed. He has led AQAP’s forces in a number of key battles and once claimed that his group has trained “thousands” of Sunnis. In December, Bala’idi was seen congratulating his fighters after they overran the town of Jaar.
US intelligence agencies thought that Abdul Haq al Turkistani, a member of al Qaeda’s executive council, was killed in a drone strike in February 2010. But according to a jihadist media outlet, he was badly wounded but recovered and assumed command of the Turkistan Islamic Party in 2014.
The attack took place in a section of Pakistan’s tribal agencies where the the US is concentrating its drone campaign in North Waziristan.
Five of the eight strikes that have taken place in Pakistan so far this year have targeted jihadists operating in the Shawal Valley, which spans both North and South Waziristan.
In a new video from Baiji, the Islamic State highlighted the use of a drone to gather intelligence for its “operations control room” directing the fighting at the oil refinery complex. The jihadist group has showcased the use of drones before, most notably at the Brigade 93 base in Raqqah last summer.
Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent confirmed that deputy emir Ustad Ahmad Farooq and shura member Qari ‘Imran were killed in separate strikes in January. Farooq was identified in Osama bin Laden’s documents as an up and coming al Qaeda leader.
The strike took place in the Shawal Valley, a jihadist hub that spans both North and South Waziristan.
Asmatullah Muawiya is said to have been targeted in one of the two strikes that took place today in Shawal area of North Waziristan in Pakistan.
The Pakistani military claimed it “cleared” the Datta Khel area in September 2014 as part of operation Zarb-e-Azb. The US has launched seven drone strikes in Datta Khel since then.
The ongoing targeting of al Qaeda commanders in Pakistan’s tribal areas refutes past claims by US officials that al Qaeda is “decimated” and that only two relevant leaders remain.
Members of the Haqqani Network, the Hafiz Gul Bahadar Group, and “Uzbeks” are reported to have been killed in an attack in the Shawal Valley.
Nine of the 19 drone strikes in Pakistan this year have occurred in the jihadist hub of Datta Khel in North Waziristan.
The strike in Shabwa reportedly killed an AQAP military commander.
The US has launched five strikes in Pakistan’s tribal areas in five days, indicating that the hunt is on for a senior al Qaeda or allied jihadist leader or operative.