Feb 29 2008
US forces have taken another jab at the gathering al-Qaeda forces in the tribal areas of Pakistan – one of these times it will be Bin Laden, Zwahiri or Mullah Omar:
A missile strike on a suspected Taliban safe house in a remote tribal area of northwest Pakistan killed at least 10 people early Thursday, according to residents and local officials.
The attack targeted a home in the village of Kaloosha in volatile South Waziristan, near the Afghan border. There were conflicting reports on the number of casualties and the identities of those killed, but local residents and officials said the home belonged to a farm owner who had recently offered it as a guesthouse to several foreign fighters.
A few things to take from this. I have repeatedly reported that the US has Special Ops forces in Pakistan with Pak authorization to take out high level al-Qaeda targets (see here and here for examples of previous posts). The fact these pinpoint attacks continue simply confirms this relationship.
Even more important is the intel required to determine this kind of target. I won’t speculate on details, but it is easy to conclude the locals are turning on these foreign fighters who try and hide amongst them. And an even more intriguing question is how is the newly elected powers playing in this game? Are they telling their local supporters the obvious: give up al-Qaeda and America’s war will leave Pakistan? I would not be surprised at all if this kind of political calculation is going on.
According to local residents, Sher Mohammed Malikkheil, the owner of the home, is a member of the Yargulkhel, a sub-tribe of the Wazir, the predominant tribe in South Waziristan. A farmer by profession, Malikkheil, also known as Sheroo, has been suspected of links to local and foreign fighters.
“Sheroo’s house has been home to some outsiders and strange people for the last few months and he himself was living in another home,” said Shah Nazar, a shop owner in the neighboring village of Azam Warsak.
Kaloosha has long been considered a stronghold of foreign and local fighters with ties to al-Qaeda. The village was home to Nek Mohammed, a commander who was killed in an apparent missile strike in June 2004 after sheltering hundreds of al-Qaeda fighters following the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.
South Waziristan (see map below) seems to be the final gathering place of al-Qaeda as it is forced to retreat from Iraq. The SurrenderMedia has portrayed the migration of al-Qaeda back to its birthplace as if it is gaining power there. Anytime terrorist gather it is a risk, but I think there is also an aspect of this that provides America an opportunity to decimate the remnants of al-Qaeda. Only time will tell which way we are heading.
BTW, here is more on those targeted and their nationalities.
Update: It seems there may have been one special target in the cross-hairs:
Residents said that four unidentified “guests” had arrived late Wednesday at the site, which yesterday had been cordoned off by armed militants after the missile strike.
South Waziristan is the base of Baitullah Mehsud, an Islamist warlord accused by Pakistani and U.S. officials of links to al-Qaeda and of masterminding the assassination of former premier Benazir Bhutto.