Jun 10 2008

Another AQ Leader Targeted In Pakistan Tribal Areas – Updated!

Major Update At The End

As I noted in the earlier post below, al-Qaeda has been retreating from a range of defeats in Iraq, Lebanon (and I forgot to mention Afghanistan which is over 75% pacified) and is being surrounded by allied forces. This has allowed allied forces to use intelligence to take out 3 key leaders in surgical strikes within Pakistan’s FATA region, with the permission of the Pakistan government.

Well today it seems we targeted another AQ Leader in the area:

A pilotless U.S. drone was suspected to have fired a missile into a Pakistani area on the Afghan border on Tuesday, but there was no word on the target or casualties, a government official said.

The missile was thought to have been fired into the Mohmand ethnic Pashtun tribal area in northwest Pakistan where this year, U.S.-controlled Predator aircraft have struck at least four sites used by al Qaeda operatives, killing dozens of suspected militants.

“There was an attack by a spy plane close to the Afghan border but we don’t have information about casualties or damage,” said the government official based in the region. He declined to be identified.

Mohmand has not been a hotbed of support for al Qaeda and the Taliban but militants are known to operate there.

Emphasis mine. The perfect place for AQ leaders to hide out is outside area known to be rampant with extremists. But the telltale security forces around these leaders would be a sign that militants might be ‘operating’ in the area. Only time will tell which, if any, leader we took out today. As usual, fingers crossed its one of the top two masterminds of 9-11. More here.

Update:  I have posts from months past on the agreement between the US and Pakistan for targeted air strikes (see here and here for some examples).  In addition I noted there were plans for increased CIA presence in Pakistan.  These hints are being confirmed in the Iranian press – which tells me there is more going on behind the scenes than meets the public eye:

The Pakistani President had permitted the CIA to establish a base in northern Pakistan to launch strikes on the militants, an analyst says. 

“On Jan 9, 2008, Mike McConnell, director of national intelligence, and Gen. Michael Hayden, director of CIA, visited Islamabad where they discussed a plan to make operational a secret CIA base that could mount attacks on militants by drones armed with missiles,” Ahmed Rashid wrote in his book “Descent into Chaos”. 

The base was located in the restive Federally Administered Tribal Area (FATA) along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, a region considered a safe haven for Taliban and al-Qaeda cadres, The News Tuesday reported, quoting from the book. 

Pervez Musharraf, the book says, accepted help from the US Special Forces to train and mentor Pakistani counterterrorism units. 

The fact is these secret arrangements represent the latest, hidden actions to decapitate al-Qaeda.  We have two very courageous and determined leaders to thank for this, leaders who have been unfairly maligned in the media because these actions remain classified to maximize their results.

Update:  Reader Kathie notes a detail in the second Reuters link above I missed:

The missile was thought to have been fired into the Mohmand ethnic Pashtun tribal area in northwest Pakistan where this year, U.S.-controlled Predator aircraft have struck at least four sites used by al Qaeda operatives, killing dozens of suspected militants.

Woohoo!  Justice is being served in Pakistan today.


Major Update: It seems that my earlier post concerning the surrounding of al-Qaeda and how locals would be turning in intelligence helping allied forces was quite prescient, as these missile hits could have been part of a much broader action. First by earlier comments:

al-Qaeda is not dead, it is in retreat. And I think we will see a summer where there is extreme pressure applied to their last sanctuary in the FATA area of Pakistan – which seems to be were AQ forces are retreating after their defeats in Iraq and Lebanon.

The last three AQ leaders to be killed by the US were targeted in this area, killed by Predator drones. The last AQ forces are, for all intents and purposes, surrounded. There are about 100,000 Pakistani troops cover their southern boundary and about the same number of US and NATO forces along the Afghanistan border to the North.

We could see al-Qaeda crippled in a major way if we can turn a few tribes in FATA against al-Qaeda. Clearly we have insights into that region – how else do people think we knew where to fire our missiles and kill AQ leaders? This kind of targeting is coming from some local sources, sources ready to purge their region of the enemy al-Qaeda.

Now some late breaking news regarding the fighting in the region of the missile attacks today:

Taliban and Afghan National Army backed by American forces have traded severe firing in Sooran Dara area of Mehmand and Bajaur Agencies on Afghan border late Tuesday evening.

Sources told this correspondent that Afghan National Army backed by American forces and gunship helicopters clashed with Taliban when the former on a tip-off attacked a Taliban hideout in the Sooran Dara area.

Unconfirmed reports receiving from the Dara revealed that dozens of Taliban and Afghan National Army are feared dead in the clashes.

Pakistan Tehrik-e-Taliban spokesman Maulvi Umer talking to this correspondent via phone from an undisclosed location said that clashes erupted in Sooran Dara area when American and Afghan National Army backed by gunship helicopters and jets attacked Taliban on the Afghan border.

He said that Afghan National Army and American forces and their jets also violated the territorial limits of Pakistan and continued to fly over Mehmand and Bajaur Agencies for few minutes.

Clearly US and Afghan forces were operating on a tip and caught a large group of militants on the Afghan side of the border> Then they traced the militants back to their rats’ nest as they fled back into Pakistan, bringing on the missile strikes. This is the kind of pressure I was predicting just this morning we would be seeing through out the summer, and I sincerely hope we do see more if it.

9 responses so far

9 Responses to “Another AQ Leader Targeted In Pakistan Tribal Areas – Updated!”

  1. kathie says:

    From “Counterterrorism” blog

    Suspected U.S. missile fired in NW Pakistan – Reuters: Pilotless U.S. drone fired missile into area where Predators struck at least 4 Al Qaeda sites

  2. […] The Strata-Sphere – Another AQ Leader Targeted In Pakistan Tribal Areas! […]

  3. […] I posted yesterday on a missile attack (maybe up to four missiles) that hit Pakistan.  There also was some fighting which broke out on the ground in the region between Taliban and Afghan and NATO forces.  That was the impression yesterday. […]

  4. […] we have completely conflicting ‘reports’ on those multiple missile strikes in Pakistan.  I noted the strikes it here first.  Then today I noted a Times UK story on how this was some sort of border clash with Taliban, […]

  5. […] on the run and The Strata-Sphere gives the scoop: Another AQ Leader Targeted In Pakistan Tribal Areas – Updated! Also, from AJ: First, credit where it is due – Rusty Shackleford is hearing rumors there may have […]

  6. […] as AJ Strata about what’s going on in Pakistan, but I am happy to report that we’ve taken out another Taliban/al Qaeda target inside the territory of our “ally” in the region. Whoever designed the Predator drone […]

  7. […]  I will use a combination of recent reports since my previous posts on the matter (here, here and here) to see if we can solve the riddle. […]

  8. […] There is rumor and speculation that a U.S. fired missile in Pakistan earlier this week was more than a response to a clash on the Afghan border. Several blogs and other sources are speculating that it may have been a surgical strike against an al Qaeda high value target (HVT), and the target may have been al Qaeda #2 man, Ayman al Zawahiri. AJStrata Has more, including comments […]

  9. […] fire fight between US forces-Afghan forces and Pakistan-Taliban forces here, here, here, here and here.   To summarize I speculated that the Pak Frontier Corps (FC) outpost that was supposedly attacked […]