Saturday, 08 August 2020
Up-to-the-minute perspectives on defence, security and peace
issues from and for policy makers and opinion leaders.

     |      View our Twitter page at     |     


Drone Wars for November 2013 is compiled by Elayne Jude for Great North News Service

The month opened with the killing of Hakeemullah Mehsud, the leader of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, on the day following the Pakistani Government's announcement of a formal peace negotiation with the Pakistani Taliban. Mehsud was thought to be linked to a suicide bombing in Afghanistan in 2009, which killed seven CIA operatives, and to the 2010 attempted Times Square bombing. It has also been said that under his leadership, the Taliban targeted Pakistani soldiers and civilians, slaughtered Shia Muslims and attempted to wreck this year's general election by targeting liberal parties. For the Pakistani government, the killing adds another twist to its tortuous relationship with the US, whose drone campaign it publicly denounces but secretly, if selectively, has supported. Whatever the real prospects for the peace talks he was to have led, Mehsud is now hailed as a holy martyr by his own side. His death provoked widespread international reaction:

Opposition politician Imran Khan called on federal officials to force the U.S. to end drone attacks, and block the vital overland supply route to Karachi used by NATO. When Khan failed to persuade the Pakistani government to block the route earlier this month, he announced that he would hold a protest to do so himself. Thousands turned out in support, although the day chosen, a Saturday, is the least crucial for the flow of NATO traffic.

The blocked route in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province leads to one of two border crossings used to send supplies overland from Pakistan to neighbouring Afghanistan. His Tehreek-e-Insaf party runs the local government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Political fallout from the killing of Mehsud and the strike in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa continued, as a Pakistani government official named an alleged CIA station chief:

On 28 November, world media carried the story of a strike in Helmand Province which killed an infant and injured two women. There are also unconfirmed claims of civilian deaths in a strike in Nuristan province on 30 November. These strikes are outside the area of operations usually reported by Long War Journal, an authority on the US drone campaign. Both strikes involved civilian casualties. As of 1st December 2013, the LWJ has reported neither.

1 November - North Waziristan. Hakeemullah Mehsud, the leader of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, was among five killed in a strike in the Miramshah area.

A pair of missiles were fired at Hakeemullah's vehicle as it left a mosque in the village of Danday Darpa Khel. Hakeemullah's bodyguard, Tariq Mehsud, and his driver, Abdullah Mehsud, are said to be among those killed. The village is a hub for al Qaeda, the Taliban, and the Haqqani Network. The strike took place just two days after another in the village of Zafar, also in the Miramshah area.

Hakeemullah Mehsud was killed the day after the Pakistani government announced that it was formally negotiating a peace agreement with the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan.

19 November - Yemen. Three alleged AQAP fighters were killed in the first recorded strike in Yemen since the end of August. The strike took place in an eastern province where AQAP has been regrouping.

The three were targeted as their vehicle traveled in the Ghayl Bawazir area near Mukallah, provincial capital of Hadramout province. Yemeni officials denied that its military carried out the strike. Yemeni officials have stated in the past that the Yemeni air force lacks the capability to strike moving vehicles

Hadramout is the ancestral home of Osama bin Laden's family. In May 2013, the Yemeni government claimed it foiled a plot to establish an Islamic emirate in the area.

In 2012, strikes against AQAP in Hadramout increased. Previously, there had been no strikes in the province. From mid-May until the end of 2012, the US launched seven attacks in Hadramout. Today's is the first in Yemen since August 30, when Kaid al Dhahab, AQAP's commander in Baydah province, was killed.

21 November - Hangu, Pakistan. Six killed in a rare attack in Pakistan outside the tribal agency.

Three missiles were fired at a seminary in the Tal area of Hangu district in what seems to have been an attempt to kill Sirajuddin Haqqani, the operations commander of the Taliban and the Haqqani Network, who was seen at the seminary two days ago.

The strike is the fourth outside of Pakistan's tribal areas since 2004, and the first since March 2009.

It is not clear which or how many of those killed in today's strike were civilians, or jihadists. The Pakistani news agency Dawn identified the six killed as Kaleemullah, Abdul Rehman, Mufti Hamidullah Haqqani, Maulvi Ahmed Jan, Abdullah and Gul Marjan. Jan, Haqqani, and Rehman are said to be "key leaders" in the Haqqani network; Jan, an aide to Siraj and a financier.

Today's strike is just the fourth by the US outside of Pakistan's tribal areas since the program began in 2004, according to data compiled by The Long War Journal. The vast majority of strikes have taken place in North and South Waziristan. Of the 352 strikes since 2004, 251 have hit targets in North Waziristan, and 83 have hit targets in South Waziristan. There have been three strikes in Bajaur, two in Arakzai, four in Kurram, and five in Khyber.

Today's the first strike reported in Pakistan since Nov. 1, when the drones killed Hakeemullah Mehsud, the leader of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan.

28 November - North Waziristan. Three "militants" killed in the tribal agency. This is the third strike in Pakistan in November; the previous two killed senior leaders in the Pakistani Taliban and the Haqqani Network.

Two missiles were fired at a compound in the Miramshah area of North Waziristan late in the evening. Several strike aircraft were seen hovering over the compound before the strike.

The strike is said to have killed "a Pakistani citizen from Punjab Province" but his identity was not disclosed. It has been reported that the Punjabi Taliban was the target, and that among the dead was an operative involved in the attack on the Mehran Naval Base in Karachi in May 2011.

28 November - Helmand Province. An alleged Taliban commander (said to be Reza Gul) and a two-year-old child were killed and two women injured in a 2-missile attack in Helmand Province. President Hamid Karzai strongly condemned the November 28 airstrike as yet another sign of the US disregard for civilian lives. The statement from his office said the strike has occurred in the village of Faqiran, in the morning. A local commander had been targeted, but the infant, Rafiullah, was hit and killed. NATO confirmed that the strike had targeted a local, unnamed commander riding a motorcycle. NATO commander General Joseph Dunford later apologised.

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your settings, we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies on the Defence Viewpoints website. However, if you would like to, you can modify your browser so that it notifies you when cookies are sent to it or you can refuse cookies altogether. You can also delete cookies that have already been set. You may wish to visit which contains comprehensive information on how to do this on a wide variety of desktop browsers. Please note that you will lose some features and functionality on this website if you choose to disable cookies. For example, you may not be able to link into our Twitter feed, which gives up to the minute perspectives on defence and security matters.