January 13, 2006


EXCLUSIVE: Pakistani Military Sources Say Zawahiri May Be Dead: Forensic Tests to Reveal Fate of al Qaeda Number Two (BRIAN ROSS, Jan. 13, 2006, ABC News)

Today, according to Pakistani military sources, U.S. aircraft attacked a compound known to be frequented by high level al Qaeda operatives. Pakistani officials tell ABC News that al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, Osama bin Laden's top lieutenant, may have been among them.

U.S. intelligence for the last few days indicated that Zawahiri might be in the location or about to arrive, although there is still no confirmation from U.S. officials that he was among the victims. [...]

Villagers described seeing an unmanned plane circling the area for the last few days and then bombs falling in the early morning darkness.

After 9-11 you heard a lot of "analysts" make the same inane point over and over: they only had to get lucky once, we have to be lucky every day. But, terrible as the death and destruction of that day was, the reality is that the war against al Qaeda pits a relatively few whackos who can't ever show their faces in public against the world's hyperpower, and a pissed-off hyper-power at that. Unfortunately, wiping out the entire command of al Qaeda won't magically end terrorism in the world or do away with Islamicism, but we will eradict at least this organization in no small measure because we can always be on the hunt for them and they can't do anything to stop us.

al-Qaida Leader Not at Site of Airstrike (RIAZ KHAN, 1/14/06, Associated Press)

Al-Qaida's second-in-command was the target of a U.S. airstrike near the Afghan border but he was not at the site of the attack, two senior Pakistani officials said Saturday.

18 die as missiles hit Bajaur village: US warplanes target TNSM stronghold (Behroz Khan, 1/13/06, The News International, Pakistan)
Federal Minister for Information Sheikh Rashid Ahmad told journalists that the government would probe the incident to ascertain what caused the explosions and killings of the people. This is the second incident in less than two weeks that the US planes targeted houses of the Pakistani tribesmen inflicting heavy loss to human lives, households and cattle heads.

Eight persons belonging to the family of a religious leader, Maulvi Noor Muhammad, were killed in similar circumstances in Sidgai village in North Waziristan, close to the border of Afghanistan the previous week. Pakistan has formally lodge its protest with the US authorities on the Sidgai happening. [...]

Agencies add: "According to our information, 18 people have been killed," said Shah Jehan, a shopkeeper who lives about 2 kms from the village. Maj-Gen Shaukat Sultan said he did not know the cause of the blasts, but added: "People heard explosions and as a result, there were a number of casualties. My information is that 11 to 14 people have been killed."

A Pakistani intelligence official said two aircraft had come in from Afghanistan and fired two or three missiles. "The casualties may be much higher. People are very angry. They are not allowing access, so exact figures of deaths and wounded people are not available," he said.

The intelligence official said Damadola has been a stronghold of Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (TNSM), a pro-Taliban group banned by the government in January 2002. He said members of the group might be involved in attacks on US-led forces in Afghanistan and the missile strikes might have been launched in retaliation.

A US military spokesman in Afghanistan, Lt-Col Jerry O’Hara, said there were no reports of US forces operating in that area. In Kabul, US military spokesman Lt Mike Cody said he had no reports on the attack.

In Afghanistan’s eastern province of Kunar, which borders Bajur, Deputy Provincial Governor Noor Mohammed denied Pakistani allegations that the strike was launched from within Afghanistan. "I have been in touch with all the security forces in Kunar and no one has heard about this," he said. "I don’t think it’s true the rocket came from within Afghanistan."

Major U.S. attack may have killed Zawahri:
Al-Qaida’s top operating officer believed to be at target site in Pakistan (Jim Miklaszewski, 1/13/06, NBC News)
While some remains were reportedly recovered from the site of the attack, there was still no confirmation Friday night that Zawahri was among the dead. An intelligence official told NBC that it does have a sample of Zawahri's DNA.

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 13, 2006 7:59 PM

It was another CIA drone. (Not Ms. Palme.)

Posted by: ghostcat at January 13, 2006 9:33 PM

I'm going on the record with a prediction: they didn't get him.

I find this article a fascinating insight into the clash of the modern world and the ancient, it's like those predators were flying back in time to strike at a medieval people.

Like the primitive tribal atavists they are, the targets of the laser-guided missiles probably had no idea of the consequences of declaring Jihad on a technological super power.

Like the modern bureaucratic incompetents they are, the CIA probably hit the wrong houses.

Posted by: Amos at January 13, 2006 10:08 PM

Maybe, Amos, but they sure did hit 'em hard. Sounds like they were quite confident of hitting one or more high value targets. I'll bet they did ... though perhaps not the Z-Man, hisself.

Posted by: ghostcat at January 13, 2006 11:01 PM

It's about time some of these border tribes that the Pakistanis have been unwilling to deal with find out that there are severe costs to harboring enemies of the USA.

Even if we didn't get Z-dawg, I suspect some of the guests in the region will no longer be welcome.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at January 13, 2006 11:46 PM

I think you're wrong in that these kind of hardened hill people are not easily cowed by this kind of attack, they never buckled under to the Russians even after ten years of immensely huger atrocity.

Also, it will stir up a handfull of outraged yokels who will cross the border in the coming year to get themselves killed attacking Afghani security forces. That 17-year-old kid that lost half his family is definitly going to buy it on the side of some road shooting at an APC.

But it might give some of the more sober tribal leaders the idea that hosting AQ at their houses might attract CIA lightning, who knows. Anyway, since nothing will make them love the West, they might as well fear it.

Posted by: Amos at January 14, 2006 1:55 AM

I've never understood the argument that our actions in that region are creating new enemies. Amos' hypothetical 17year old is going to grow up to hate us no matter what we do. If we followed the pacifist's way, he will have contempt for our weakness and for what he sees as our cowardice, and assume nothing will ever happen to him unless his leaders tell him it's time to strap on a belt and join Allah. This way, at least, he will have respect for us and realize that he may have to wait in line for Paradise with all the rest of the cannon-fodder, or just as bad, survive the encounter but missing a few parts.

What we are doing is operating within the framework of his culture, where ruthlessness is admired and strength (and willingness to use it) respected, and I thought that behaving like the native culture was supposed to be a multi-culti good thing. To be nice to him is to attempt to impose our Western cultural imperialism.

"Do unto others as others would have you do unto them."

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at January 14, 2006 2:33 PM

Good point,but maybe we should do unto them as they would do unto us. And as the saying goes, do it first.

Posted by: jdkelly at January 14, 2006 4:06 PM

we should fly in NOW organizers and make the tribesmen listen to their lectures.

Posted by: toe at January 14, 2006 4:56 PM