Pakistan Update

There have been two missile strikes in two days, one in North Waziristan, one in South Waziristan. Two “Canadians of Arab origin” were killed in the first, and an unknown number of foreigners were killed in the second. We won’t know for up to a couple of weeks if any Taliban or Al Qaeda leaders were killed by the strikes but by the increased tempo of strikes you can guess that TTP, the Afghan Taliban, and Al Qaeda are heavily infiltrated now.

This is not so much paid spying but rather disaffected members and tribespeople who are waking up to the fact Al Qaeda & TTP is at war with Pakistan and every Islamic country in existence. The Taliban and Qaeda certainly spend the great bulk of their time and effort on killing muslims, and mostly innocent ones.

The place this is most evident is in their ongoing war against Pakistan; with Musharraf gone and the fighting still going and reinforced by the most recent Al Zawahiri tape, it’s evident that the war isn’t against the US. It’s a war to achieve temporal power for the takfirist extremists who compose these groups.

In Parachinar the sectarian tribal war continues, and it’s evident that some of the terror groups are not just aiding and abetting the Sunni side, but also creating new inflamatory incidents any time this two year old fighting gets near to dieing out. It really started in 2006 at which point the Kurram levies were pretty effective against the Taliban, but several incidents involving a shrine caused violence to escalate between tribes. At points the Afghan Taliban have fired cross-border artillery on the Shia portions of Kurram, and the market areas of some towns have been gutted by fighting multiple times.

On the political front Zardari is the strongest candidate running for president, and all barriers have now been removed with the International court case in Switzerland being dropped. Aftab Ahmed Sherpao (PPP-S) and Maulana Fazlur Rehman (JUI-F) also swung in behind him. This brings moderate and conservative support to Zardari, but it must be noted that Fazl’s swing was conditional on the Bajaur offensive being stopped. Note that JUI-F bills themselves as “moderate” but they take many of the same sympathetic to the Taliban stances that the old MMA coalition used to. While JuI-F participated in elections, JUI-S (Sami ul Haq) boycoted them and is pretty much openly in bed with the Taliban. In the background the purported reasons for the boycotts have been largely removed. Musharraf is retired, and many but not all of the judges have been reinstated.

The Bajaur offensive is now officially stopped for Ramadan, but this will be temporary as the TTP and their AQ allies aren’t going to stop the war on Pakistan. It’s likely they will slow their pace as they reposition and rearm, but expect targetted assassinations against Pakistani leaders and their families to continue. Until Pakistan takes out the leaders of the insurgency, and all of them, the state is in danger of crumbling.

UPDATE: One other notable thing I neglected, once again you are seeing tribals band together to fight the Taliban. This was also the case in Musharraf’s 2006 offensive, but that faded quickly as the tribes did not receive support from Pakistan’s military. If Pakistan’s military commits, and the support is both consistent and persistent, then things could turn around in the frontiers relatively quickly.

[ This update was compiled from various stories in The International News, Dawn, and the Pakistan Daily Times. ]

Confirmed by AQ: Abu Yazid “Saeed” Al Masri Still on the HVT List

As Sahab, Al Qaeda’s media outlet, has released eulogies for two recently killed commanders, but Abu Yazid was not among them and he signed the message. This confirms that the August 12th reports of his demise from unamed Pakistani officials were false reports and leaves Saeed Al Masri on the high value target list.

My previous reports on him here. More at Jawa, and at CT Blog.

In other news another missile strike in Bajaur has taken out at least 8 Al Qaeda or Taliban militants.

Missile Strike Against Hekmatyar Camp in Pakistan; 9 Dead

Associated Press and Reuters are reporting a missile strike at a Gulbuddin Hekmatyar training camp in Pakistan. The report has 9 militants dead (unamed, but militants usually equals foreign Taliban or Al Qaeda, local TTP Taliban are either named or tagged extremists.) From Reuters:

WANA, Pakistan, Aug 13 (Reuters) – At least nine militants were killed in a missile strike on their training camp in Pakistan’s South Waziristan region, near the Afghan border, security officials and residents said on Wednesday.

In a separate incident, a militant faction leader was shot and killed by a gunman at his office in a mosque in a northwestern town.

This strike occurred in Bhagar, about 22 miles West of Wana, a hotbed and gathering area for Taliban forces in the South Waziristan area. One out of two camps located at Bhagar was hit. According to an unamed Pakistan intel official :

“This camp was run by Hizb-e-Islami and there were about 15 people including foreigners there at the time of the attack,”
Militants sealed off the area and were not letting anyone approach, they aren’t even letting residents who live nearby go there but our information is that they have recovered nine bodies.”

Here’s the wiki page on Gulbuddin, you will see that Hizb-e-Islami (G) and Hekmatyar have a long history, including some ties to Iran.

Update: AFP reports the possibility that Zanjir Wazir, commander of HIG Afghanistan was killed. His brother, Abdur Rehman and Abdul Salam were counted among the dead.

US officials are denying the strike, which was four missiles. Pakistan is known to have laser guided munitions (helicopter launched) and as the training camp’s plot is well known, the missiles could have been targetted via GPS.

Also note this from the AFP Story linked above:

Separately on Wednesday a gunman shot dead an Islamist militant leader, Haji Namdar, as he taught at a religious school in the Khyber tribal region near the northwestern city of Peshawar, officials said

It’s a “red on red” killing and retribution for Namdar’s resistance in the Khyber agency, there will undoubtably be counter-strokes, stay tuned.

More at Jammie Wearing Fool

Senior Al Qaeda Leader(s) Killed in Damadola

It appears we got an Algerian Al Qaeda leader in the Damadola village hellfire strike last week, this is the third one in the area. ( as reported here in February.)  Jammie Wearing Fool has more

The Algerian, known by the nickname Abu Sulayman Jazairi, apparently died May 14 in the strike that killed as many as 14 people and destroyed a compound near the village of Damadola, an Al Qaeda stronghold in northwestern Pakistan, officials said. A knowledgeable U.S. official and a senior European anti-terrorism official said Jazairi was thought to be dead.

U.S. anti-terrorism forces are targeting front-line planners in Pakistani hide-outs, and Jazairi would be another in a series of recent losses for the Al Qaeda leadership, the two officials said.

More also at the Asia Times:

US intelligence is closely monitoring the area, acutely aware of its importance. The strike had some success, taking out two senior al-Qaeda leaders – Sheikh Osman, know for his amputated hand, and Sheikh Soliman. However, a famous Taliban commander, Dost Muhammad, escaped unhurt. **

** Note that when you read an article by Syed you will be reading the Taliban’s agitprop — sometimes they lie, sometimes they don’t; so you will find nuggets of truth in his articles. I don’t think Syed lies but he is sympathetic, and prints verbatim what they tell him.

Update: More from the Pakistan Daily times:

They said the Algerian, known by the nickname Abu Sulayman Jazairi, apparently died on May 14 in the strike that killed 14 people and destroyed a compound near the village of Damadola.

A knowledgeable US official and a senior European anti-terrorism official told the Times that Jazairi was thought to be dead.

They said that US anti-terrorism forces were targeting frontline planners in Pakistani hideouts, and Jazairi would be another in a series of recent losses for the Al Qaeda leadership.

“He was a significant person within the Al Qaeda ranks,” said the European official, requesting anonymity. “Not in the top five, but he’s up there. The suspicion is he was one of those individuals involved in training and targeting Western interests. There is uncorroborated intelligence that he was involved in plots against Europe.”

According to the Times, officials declined to discuss last week’s operation because of political tension in Pakistan over US airstrikes. In fact, it added, some doubt lingers about the identity of the man killed. The report referred to a statement of a senior Pakistani official in which he said he believed the slain man was not the Algerian but another foreign militant.

Despite the confusion, the US and European officials told the paper that their information about the militant’s identity seemed solid.

“There are good reasons to think that Al Jazairi is dead,” the US official said. The European official said that there recently had been allusions to Jazairi’s death on radical websites.

Explosives expert: Jazairi was an explosives expert and “important terrorist trainer”, the US official said.

“When it comes to training, this individual was an important figure … People like him are vital to terrorist plots. That doesn’t mean he can’t be replaced. But when Al Qaeda loses someone with his experience, it matters.”

UPDATE: More at The Long War Journal

Al Qaeda in Somalia Leader Dies in Air Strike

Aden Hashi Ayro, Al Qaeda’s named leader in Somalia, was Killed in an air strike. AP was called by an Al Qaeda source who gave them the information:

The American military launched an airstrike Thursday targeting the head of al-Qaida in Somalia, a U.S. defense official said. The head of an Islamic insurgent group said the attack killed its leader.
Islamist leader Aden Hashi Ayro, believed to be the head of al-Qaida in Somalia, was killed when the airstrike struck his house in the central Somali town of Dusamareeb, about 300 miles north of Mogadishu, said Sheik Muqtar Robow, a spokesman for the Islamic al-Shabab militia.

Another commander and seven others were also killed, Robow said. Six more people were wounded, two of whom later died, said resident Abdullahi Nor.

“Our brother martyr Aden Hashi, has received what he was looking for—death for the sake of Allah—at the hands of the United States,” Robow told The Associated Press by phone.

Aden Hashi Ayro killed four aid workers, was trained by AQ in Afghanistan in the 90’s, and this is a major blow against the Islamic Courts and Shabab terrorist organizations in Somalia. In other exploits he dug up an Italian colonial-era cemetary and erected a mosque in its place, and sheltered Al Qaeda transiting the region.
More at The Long War Journal
More here at Reuters.