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Entries in Drone Strike (12)

Thursday
Jan102013

Drone Strike Kills Three Suspected Militants in Pakistan

Erik Simonsen/Getty(ISLAMABAD) -- A drone attack in northwestern Pakistan killed three alleged militants on Thursday.

The strike consisted of two missiles that were fired at a compound in the Mir Ali area of North Waziristan.

The attack comes a week after Maulvi Nazir, a top Taliban commander who targeted U.S. troops in Afghanistan, and nine of his comrades were killed in a drone strike in South Waziristan.

The identities of those killed on Thursday were not immediately known.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jan032013

Drone Strike Kills Top Taliban Commander in Pakistan

JOEL SAGET/AFP/Getty Images(ISLAMABAD) -- A top Taliban commander who targeted U.S. troops in Afghanistan was killed in an American drone strike in Pakistan along with nine of his comrades, intelligence and local sources confirm to ABC News.

The Taliban leader, Maulvi Nazir, died in an attack on a compound in Angoor Ada, a border town in South Waziristan, on Wednesday.

Nazir was a powerful and undisputed leader of the Wazir tribe of Waziristan and told ABC News in 2009 that his forces were intent on killing American troops.

"We have readied suicide bombers for them, they cannot escape us," Nazir said in the exclusive interview.

Nazir and the Pakistani military have long had an unwritten peace agreement, allowing Nazir to focus on attacking troops in Afghanistan.  The U.S. has been hunting him for years, but experts warned his death could anger the Pakistani military and open the South Waziristan tribal area to more internal fighting.

Nazir was in power in 2002 when Islamic fighters from various countries converged on South Waziristan to escape the U.S. bombing in Afghanistan.  He rose to prominence, however, in 2007 after he successfully defeated and evicted fighters of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan from South Waziristan.

Nazir opposed fighting Pakistani government forces and concentrated on attacking NATO and Afghan forces across the border in neighboring Afghanistan.  That policy put him at odds with a faction led by Hakeemullah Mehsud, the commander of the Taliban movement of Pakistan, and disrupted an alliance the two had made.

After a failed suicide attack on his life, Nazir ordered all the Mehsud tribesmen to leave the area under his command.

Analysts say that his death will leave a significant impact on his followers and South Waziristan.  He had led them right from the beginning.

"The area can erupt in violence," says retired Brig. Gen. Asad Munir, a former intelligence chief in North Western Pakistan.

Peace in the region may also depend on what kind of arrangement Nazir's successor wants with the Pakistan Army -- whether he wants to concentrate his fighting in Pakistan or keep focusing it on Afghanistan.

One thing is for sure that "his followers will not take this lying down," says Munir.

Nazir was buried Thursday morning in Azam Warsak and a replacement has already been chosen.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Friday
Dec282012

Drone Strike Kills Four Suspected Militants in Pakistan

Erik Simonsen/Getty(ISLAMABAD) -- A drone attack in northwestern Pakistan killed four alleged militants on Friday.

The strike consisted of two missiles that were fired at a compound in the Shawal area of North Waziristan.

The identities of those killed were not immediately known.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Aug302012

Militant Commander Likely Killed in Drone Strike, US Officials Say

JOEL SAGET/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- U.S. officials on Thursday said that an American drone strike likely took out a top commander of a powerful militant group the U.S. says is responsible for deadly, high-profile terrorist attacks in Afghanistan.

Badruddin Haqqani, described by the Combating Terrorism Center (CTC) at West Point as the "chief of operations" of the Taliban-affiliated Haqqani network, had been reported killed last week in a drone strike.  After those reports, however, a Taliban spokesperson denied Badruddin's death, saying in an email to reporters that he was alive and well in Afghanistan.

On Thursday, two U.S. officials, including a senior American diplomat, told ABC News that the U.S. government believes Badruddin was among those killed in an Aug. 21 drone strike.  Pakistani intelligence officials told ABC News they had heard from area locals the Haqqani commander had been killed.

"This is a significant loss from the Haqqani network as [Badruddin] was an operational leader behind a number of the group's high-profile attacks, including the attacks against the U.S. Embassy in Kabul," an American official said, apparently referring to an assault on the embassy in September 2011.

Last May, Badruddin Haqqani was added to the U.S. State Department's list of Specially Designated Global Terrorists.  The U.S. government said he ran kidnapping operations for the Haqqani network and was the one responsible for holding New York Times reporter David Rohde hostage before the reporter made a dramatic escape in 2009.  There is evidence Badruddin also personally directed the deadly attack on the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul in 2011, according to the CTC.

Badruddin's father, Nasiruddin, is the founder of the Pakistan-based Haqqani network and the U.S. government alleges Badruddin's brother, Sirajuddin, maintains close ties with al Qaeda.  Both have been designated terrorists and the State Department is offering a $5 million reward for information leading to Sirajuddin's capture.

The State Department says the Haqqanis are at the "forefront of insurgent activity in Afghanistan" and a recent report by the CTC describes the Haqqani network as a ruthless and somewhat sophisticated terror organization.

"The Haqqanis employ violence and intimidation to extort legal firms and prominent community members, and engage in kidnap for ransom schemes," the report says.  "The Haqqanis also appear to operate their own front companies, many of which appear to be directed at laundering illicit proceeds... [T]he Haqqanis have evolved into an efficient, transnational jihadi industry, one which supports their war effort, and which is supported by it."

"The broad range of business activities in which the Haqqanis engage suggest that the pursuit of wealth and power may be just as important to network leaders as the Islamist and nationalistic ideals for which the Haqqanis claim to fight," it says.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jul232012

Drone Attack in Pakistan Kills at Least Eight Suspected Militants

File photo. Erik Simonsen/Getty(ISLAMABAD) -- A drone strike in the Shawal area of North Waziristan killed at least eight alleged militants on Monday, according to initial reports.

The six-missile offensive targeted a compound used by militants near Pakistan's western border with Afghanistan.

The identities of those killed were not immediately known.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jul192012

Family of Slain Cleric Anwar al-Awlaki Sues Leon Panetta, David Petraeus

Tracy A. Woodward/The Washington Post/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The family of an al Qaeda member is suing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and CIA Director David Petraeus for the drone attack that killed Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen last year.

Others joining the lawsuit include the relatives of al-Awlaki's 16-year-old son, Abdulrahman, and online jihadist publication editor Samir Khan.

Since al-Awlaki, his son and Khan were all American citizens, the suit alleges the drone strike "violated the Constitution's fundamental guarantee against the deprivation of life without due process of law."

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of the dead Americans by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Constitutional Rights.

According to a report by The New York Times, the lawsuit "may face other procedural impediments before it would reach any substantive ruling on whether the strikes violated the Constitution."

Al-Awlaki, who was born in the U.S., was considered a key member of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and was tied to various attempts to plant bombs aboard planes bound for the U.S. and a car bomb that did not detonate in New York City's Times Square.  He also regularly communicated with Army Maj. Nidal Hasan, who is accused of killing 13 people at Fort Hood, Texas, in 2009.

Back in 2010, a federal judge turned back an attempt by al-Awlaki's father to block the Obama administration from targeting the cleric for assassination.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jun042012

Top Al Qaeda Leader, Militants Killed in US Drone Strike in Pakistan

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(ISLAMABAD) -- A top al Qaeda leader and longtime Osama Bin Laden confidant with a $1 million price tag on his head was targeted in a U.S. drone strike Monday morning in Pakistan, according to a senior U.S. official.

Pakistan officials say that Abu Yahya al-Libi, second-in-command to current al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, was among the 15 people killed when a U.S. drone fired four missiles into a suspected militant hideout in Mir Ali, a town in North Waziristan, at 5:30 a.m. local time Monday.

The senior U.S. official confirmed to ABC News that al-Libi was the target of a strike, but said the U.S. is still trying to confirm that he was killed. "This would be big" if confirmed, said the official.

The strike was the third in the tribal region that straddles the Afghanistan-Pakistan border in the past three days, and seventh in the past two weeks -- a span during which Pakistani officials say more than two dozen suspected militants have been killed.

If his death is confirmed, al-Libi would be among the highest profile al Qaeda members to be killed by U.S. forces since a Navy SEAL raid killed top al Qaeda commander bin Laden in May 2011. The U.S. government has offered a $1 million reward through its Rewards for Justice program for information leading to al Libi's capture.

Al-Libi recently emerged as one of the most public faces of al Qaeda, appearing in several training and propaganda videos in the past two years. A letter from al-Libi chastising the leadership of the Pakistani Taliban was found among bin Laden's documents captured during the U.S. raid.

It's believed al-Libi spent a short period studying Islamic theology in Mauritania in the early 1990s, before moving to Afghanistan to fight alongside bin Laden and other al Qaeda figures.

Shortly thereafter, he is believed to have returned to Libya, where he became part of the fledgling Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, working to overthrow Moammar Gadhafi and establish an Islamic state in the African country, before returning to Afghanistan.

In 2002, after NATO forced toppled the Taliban from power in Afghanistan, al-Libi was captured and sent to the high security U.S. prison in Bagram, Afghanistan. Three years later, he escaped, rejoining militants in the tribal regions between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

As recently as last year, al-Libi appeared in a video produced by As-Sahab, al Qaeda's media wing, urging Libyans to overthrow Gadhafi.

"The only solution for our country is Jihad for Islam", al-Libi said, praising the Arab Spring that toppled other Arab rulers.

"These revolutions have shown us that the Western governments only care about their own interests. They only speak out when they see them endangered. By now: the wind of revolution is blowing, and they evacuate their own citizens."

Other Sahab videos show al-Libi preaching to a group of militants in a mountainous region, wearing a tactical vest and reading from a script. Another shows clad in a black turban, preaching to an unidentified gathering indoors. The black flag of the Taliban is mounted on a wall behind him as he speaks.

Unlike videos of other Al Qaeda leaders that emphasize their role on the battlefield, most of al-Libi's videos appear to emphasize his role as a theologian, showing him preaching to groups of men and quoting extensively from the Quran.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
May242012

Suspected Militants in Pakistan Killed in Drone Strike

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(ISLAMABAD) -- At least 10 alleged militants were killed Thursday in a drone strike in northwest Pakistan, according to local officials.

Two missiles were fired on a compound in the Mir Ali area of North Waziristan.

Thursday's attack comes one day after Pakistan sentenced Dr. Shakil Afridi to 33 years in prison for helping the CIA gather information on Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
May222012

Drone Strike Kills Suspected Militants in Northwest Pakistan

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(ISLAMABAD) -- A two-missile attack on a compound in northwestern Pakistan killed four alleged militants, according to preliminary reports.

The identities of those killed in Tuesday's air strike were not immediately known.

This latest offensive comes two days after Pakistan, at the NATO summit in Chicago, renewed its demand to stop drone attacks.

Pakistan maintains that drone attacks are impacting its relations with the United States, whereas the U.S. says that drone attacks are the most effective tool against militants hiding in the tribal areas.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
May142012

US Escalates Drone War on Al Qaeda in Yemen

JOEL SAGET/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The United States is intensifying its strikes in Yemen and increasing its presence there as it pursues al Qaeda.

Two suspected U.S. drone strikes killed 11 suspected al Qaeda militants in southern Yemen last Saturday, according to military officials in the country.  The news comes on the heels of an escalation in drone activity.

Just two days earlier, two airstrikes in southern Yemen killed seven, including two top al Qaeda leaders.  And merely a week ago, a drone strike killed Fahd Mohammed Ahmed al-Quso, the Yemeni al Qaeda operative responsible for 2000′s USS Cole bombing.

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The strike Saturday near the border of Marib and Shabwa provinces is the third to have been carried out this month.  The United States conducted six airstrikes in March and at least six more in April against al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), the militant Islamist organization primarily active in Yemen and Saudi Arabia.  In fact, there have been nearly as many drone strikes already this year as there were all of last year.

Last week, the Pentagon announced that they had resumed sending troops to Yemen to train the country’s counterterrorism forces.  The move comes after a suspension of training following the political upheaval that ousted former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

While the United States still has a long way to go, it’s making progress, according to former CIA and FBI official Philip Mudd.

“We’ve gone into the network of the organization,” Mudd said, referring to al Qaeda groups.  “The same strategy it seems to me is now being applied in Yemen.  That is, look at the entire organization, not just a few leaders, and decimate it from the inside.”

While the escalation in drone strikes is not aimed at any one terrorist, officials would undoubtedly like to get Ibrahim al-Asiri, a Saudi bomb maker adept at breaching aviation security.  The Yemen-based Asiri has drawn Defense Department scrutiny for his ability to fashion bombs using hard-to-detect chemicals and hiding them in equipment and clothing.

U.S. officials believe al-Asiri is the man behind the underwear bomb used by a Nigerian man to try and detonate an aircraft over the United States in 2009.  He’s believed to be plotting another attack, putting his ingenious chemical bombs in cameras, hard drives and, surprisingly to some, surgically implanting them in pets and even people.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio







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