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Jan 17th, 2010

Despite Pakistani protest, the Obama administration is ramping up its missile campaign against insurgent targets in North Waziristan along Pakistan’s northwest frontier with Afghanistan, where al-Qaida’s top leadership, possibly including Osama bin Laden himself, have taken refuge.

Rugged North Waziristan Harbors U.S. Enemies

In this Aug. 22, 1998 photo, Jalaluddin Haqqani, then Taliban Army Supreme Commander, talks to reporters in Miram Shah, Waziristan, Pakistan. Al-Qaida regrouped in the town of Mir Ali after the U.S. and its allies ousted the Afghan Taliban regime in 2001. The capital Miram Shah once served as the headquarters of one of the deadliest Afghan Taliban groups, led by Jalaluddin Haqqani. (Photo credit: Mohhammad Riaz / AP file)

By Kathy Gannon

January 17, 2010

PESHAWAR, Pakistan — They rumble through the narrow snow-clogged mountain passes in black pickup trucks. In the back, eight to ten men armed with Kalashnikov rifles and rocket-propelled grenades huddle together against the cold.

These Islamic militants are on their way to Afghanistan to kill Americans and their allies. Their launching point: Pakistan’s North Waziristan district — a lawless border area that has become the nerve center of the insurgency in nearby Afghanistan.

North Waziristan is a place where al-Qaida and its Afghan and Pakistani allies can train fighters, store explosives and rest from the strain of war. The United States is pressuring Pakistan to launch military operations in North Waziristan, and CIA-operated unmanned aircraft are unleashing missiles with increasing frequency at suspected militant leaders holed up there.

However, for now, militants from al-Qaida, the Taliban and allied groups operate with impunity in North Waziristan, a bleak, arid Rhode Island-sized region with mountain passes that run like tentacles into provinces of Afghanistan. …

It was in the town of Mir Ali that al-Qaida regrouped after the U.S. and its allies ousted the Afghan Taliban regime in 2001. And Miram Shah once served as headquarters for one of the deadliest Afghan Taliban groups, led by Jalaluddin Haqqani. …

In 2006, the Pakistan army signed a peace pact with militants in Miram Shah, which the U.S. said allowed the Taliban and al Qaida to regroup. Under the agreement, Pakistan promised to keep an estimated 10,000 army men in their barracks, while the militants promised to stop crossing into Afghanistan, expel foreigners and stop fighting Pakistan.

The army kept its side of the agreement. But the militants regrouped and rearmed.

U.S. officials believe Afghanistan cannot be stabilized until Pakistan’s tribal regions — and North Waziristan in particular — have been routed of Taliban and al-Qaida. With nearly 80,000 soldiers deployed on its western border with Afghanistan, Pakistan has launched offensives in several tribal regions, including a recent offensive on Taliban strongholds in South Waziristan.

Yet it is North Waziristan and Haqqani’s Afghan Taliban faction that the U.S. has been pressing Pakistan to target. The U.S. believes North Waziristan is where al-Qaida’s top leadership, possibly including Osama bin Laden himself, have taken refuge. Haqqani’s group plots attacks inside Afghanistan from its North Waziristan base, including the Dec. 30 suicide assault on the CIA base in Khost that killed seven CIA officials.

Pakistan insists its forces are already overstretched, battling its own Taliban and other extremist groups across a territory that extends for several thousand miles. It has refused so far to open another front in North Waziristan. …

With 2,000 Pakistani soldiers already killed fighting insurgents in the border area and with anti-Americanism on the rise, the government has told Washington it will not open a front in North Waziristan against an enemy that isn’t targeting Pakistan — a reference to Haqqani’s group and al-Qaida. …

In the absence of a Pakistan ground offensive in North Waziristan, the United States has stepped up its unmanned drone assaults on the area, say local residents.

Full story


Related report

Suspected U.S. Drone Kills 12

January 17, 2010

ISLAMABAD — Suspected U.S. missiles killed at least 12 alleged militants Thursday in a compound formerly used as a religious school in Pakistan’s North Waziristan tribal region, officials said, the eighth such attack in two weeks.

The strike illustrated the Obama administration’s unwillingness to abandon its missile campaign against insurgent targets along Pakistan’s northwest border with Afghanistan. Despite Pakistani protest, the attacks have surged in number in recent days.

Nearly all the attacks in recent months have focused on North Waziristan, a segment of Pakistan’s semiautonomous tribal belt where militant networks focused on battling the United States and NATO in Afghanistan are based. Some of those militants are believed to have been involved in a late December attack that killed seven CIA employees in eastern Afghanistan.

It is a region that the Pakistani military has been wary of treading, partly because groups based there have not directly threatened the Pakistani state. The army has struck truces with some of them to keep them out of its battle against the Pakistani Taliban — who have attacked Pakistan in numerous ways — in neighboring South Waziristan. …

Full story



U.S. supports Afghan plan to reintegrate Taliban (AP, Jan. 17, 2010) — The U.S. supports a proposal to lure fighters with no strong allegiance to terrorists away from the insurgency and reintegrate them into Afghan society, said Richard Holbrooke, special U.S. envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan. …

Head of Pakistani Taliban reportedly killed (AP, Jan. 31, 2010) — The Pakistani army said it was investigating reports that Pakistani Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud died from injuries sustained in a U.S. drone missile strike in mid-January. The army’s announcement came shortly after Pakistani state television reported that Mehsud died in Orakzai, an area in Pakistan’s northwest tribal region where he was reportedly being treated for his injuries. … More (scroll down at link)


Related reports on this site

Al-Qaida Aims to Hit U.S. with WMD (Jan. 26, 2010)

Al-Qaida’s Next High-Value Target (Jan. 18, 2010)

The White House roof in all its glory

New Details in CIA Bombing (Jan. 10, 2010)

Balawi Fit Suicide Bomber Profile (Jan. 5, 2010)

CIA Zawahiri Team Decimated (Jan. 4, 2010)

Where is Osama Bin Laden? (Dec. 10, 2009)

Osama bin Laden Personality Profile (Dec. 6, 2009)

Afghan War Expands to Region (Oct. 8, 2009)

Taliban Leader Vows Revenge (Oct. 5, 2009)

Bin Laden Attacks Obama (Sept. 14, 2009)

Bin Laden Rails Against Obama (June 4, 2009)

Al-Qaida Lashes Out At Obama (June 3, 2009)

White House Attack Will “Amaze” (March 31, 2009)

Taliban, al-Qaida Up the Ante (Sept. 21, 2008)

Al-Qaida Threatens New Attacks (Sept. 20, 2008)


FROM THE ARCHIVES: One Year Ago — January 17, 2009

AP / Ron Edmonds

What George W. Bush Did Right

One-year retrospective: One year ago today, I reported that by actually putting into practice the Neo-Conservative theories of pre-emptive war and unilateralism, George W. Bush demonstrated their failure more persuasively than could the most articulate critic.

4 Responses to “Missiles Pound bin Laden Refuge”
  1. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » New Details in CIA Bombing Says:

    […] Beginning the day after the attack on a CIA base in Khost, Afghanistan, the agency has carried out 11 strikes that have killed about 90 people suspected of being militants, according to Pakistani news reports, which make almost no mention of civilian casualties. The assault has included strikes on a mud fortress in North Waziristan on Jan. 6, 2010 that killed 17 people and a Jan. 17, 2010 volley of missiles on a compound in South Waziristan that killed at least 20. […]

  2. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » Weak Support for Health Repeal Says:

    […] Missiles Pound bin Laden Refuge […]

  3. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » Times Square Bomb Plot Suspects Says:

    […] In the video, Hakimullah Mehsud, the Pakistani Taliban chief, says the Times Square bomb attack was planned to avenge U.S. drone strikes in Pakistani tribal areas that target Taliban leaders hiding there and the “abduction, torture and humiliation” of Aafia Siddiqui. […]

  4. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » Top al-Qaida Commander Killed Says:

    […] American drones began firing missiles at al-Qaida and Taliban targets along the border in 2005, but the attacks picked up pace in 2008 and have have risen in frequency ever since. […]

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