Waziristan Strike Updates and Corrections

There’s a bit more information out on yesterday’s strike, so here’s an update on facts accompanied with my usual speculations/musings. Don’t worry, I will always let you know when I am making wild-assed guesses before I do to separate that from the facts.

Stratasphere has a write up here with more details, and I’m going to politely & respectfully disagree with AJ in a couple of areas.

First things first, there are two Rahims. The Wiki entry pointed to is a captive who has been in custody at Guantanamo since at least 2004 when the wiki entry states he had a tribunal hearing that he refused to attend. 

Our new guy has a new wiki entry with his name mis-spelled as “Muhammed” Rahim which contains only scant information. The new entry uses the standard Pakistani spelling for Mohammed instead of the particular way our perp spells his name: “Mohammad.” This might be an Afghanistan variation, I don’t know, but I’m sticking with it because that’s the way it is in all newspaper accounts.

From my previous post you can also see that he was captured by Pakistani authorities on 8/7/2007 in Lahore, and you can see the picture I believe to be his from the Afghanistan “12 Most-Wanted” poster.

In my previous post I said that this is the third strike, but that’s wrong. This is now the fifth strike in Pakistan this year. Previously I did not count the cross border artillery strike, and this operation turns out to be two strikes on two separate walled compounds. (Typical for Tribal leaders in the area.)

The other correction is to the original reports from Pakistan – they stated this was “two Kilometers” south of Wana, new reports have it “five Kilometers” south of Wana. The Google-earth pic I posted still fits the area, and the difference could be “as a crow flies” vs “by road”.

UPDATE: From Dawn, an interesting article where they’ve interviewed multiple people from the area, so you have conflicting tales:

 Sunday’s attack targeted the house of Mohammad Yousuf who had rented it out to Arabs about a year ago. The house was completely destroyed.

Initial reports said that three missiles fired from an aircraft had destroyed the house. These reports also said that 18 people had been killed and 14 injured.

Most of the victims were non-locals and belonged to Arab countries, an official said, adding that the house was being used as a training camp for militants. There were no women or children in the house.

Witnesses said that militants cordoned off the area immediately after the attack. Eight charred bodies were taken out of the rubble of the house.

“Parts of bodies were stuffed into bags and buried in a nearby graveyard by local militants,” a tribesman said.

One of the injured told a local doctor at the hospital that some 42 people had been in the house at the time of the attack.

Our Tank Correspondent adds: A spokesman for Baitullah Mehsud on Sunday warned of fresh attacks if the government did not stop military operation in the region.Maulvi Umar described suicide attacks in Lahore and Islamabad as a reaction to the ongoing army operation in the area and said that security forces should halt the operation.

Here comes some speculation: The US stated that missiles were not fired from “military aircraft.” This statement carries just enough truth to mislead. AJ speculates on Predators, but… both Predators and Reapers are military aircraft.

Which then leaves us with a new variety of GLCMs (very unlikely,) or ship-fired TLAMs. The turbofans from TLAMs would also explain the villagers reporting that they heard drones. Wana and the rest of Pakistan is in easy range for TLAMs fired from the Arabian Sea. (One other potential would be non-nuclear ICBM’s, but that’s not likely and doesn’t explain the “drone noise” reported.)

On who we got in each of these last four strikes – it’s going to remain a mystery awhile, but I would wager this as an attempt or hit on Baitullah Mehsud and his commanders rather than Zawahiri or Bin Laden. In the previous post I linked above I state why, remember that it’s a logical stack of flaming pixy sticks, I could be wayyyyyy wrong.

Matt Dupee also has a good write-up at The Long War Journal, it contains the details of whose house was hit, etc. One other note: In the picture accompanying the newstory Matt links to there are a lot of clean-shaven faces.

UPDATE: Interesting note for intel types here from the Malaysia sun, Jihadis shifting to Sufi Khanqahs

UPDATE: Daily Times reports that we did not get Maulvi Nazir. Also note that Daily Times doesn’t mind designating Taliban as Taliban.