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Taliban

The big story of May 2013 was President Obama’s enunciation of his revised UACV policy to National Defense University on May 23rd, the day after the disclosure that four Americans were killed in 2009 by drone strikes. Amid reams of coverage, here’s James Traub for Foreign Policy magazine, eviscerating the Pakistan perspective:

http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2013/05/24/indispensible_weapon_drones_obama

 

and the New York Times details the new policy guidance:

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/23/us/us-acknowledges-killing-4-americans-in-drone-strikes.html?_r=1&

Whether by chance or design, more than half the month elapsed without a single declared UACV strike, writes Elayne Jude of Great North News Services. The pax was broken with a strike in Yemen on May 18th.

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Overview:
February and March 2013 saw a considerable abatement in drone attacks in Waziristan and in the Yemen. The topic continues to gather media attention throughout the world, reports Elaybe Jude for Great North News Services. 
 
The New York Times reported in early March that the two February strikes in Waziristan were not carried out by the US. The report was based on interviews with "three American officials with knowledge of the program." The officials claimed one of the strikes was likely a Pakistani operation, and that the other  may have been infighting within the Taliban. US intelligence officials involved with the drone programme in Pakistan told The Long War Journal that the two February strikes were US operations. Pakistan's Inter-Services Public Relations claimed The New York Times report  was a "distortion of the facts and seems to be aimed at diluting Pakistan's stance on drone strikes."
 
A report released 26th March by Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) indicated that 55 per cent of the British public would support the UK Government assisting in a drone missile strike to kill a known terrorist overseas. Support drops substantially if innocent casualties are likely. The joint study was carried out by University of Surrey’s Centre for International Intervention and RUSI, in collaboration with YouGov. The report is here: http://www.rusi.org/downloads/assets/Hitting_the_Target.pdf.
 
Stanford Law School’s report, ‘Living Under Drones’, details the psychological damage to those people living in the regions most subject to UAV surveillance and strikes. The report’s co-author, Jennifer Gibson, stressed at a meeting in the UK Parliament in March 2013 that the study had not expected or set out to explore specifically any psychological impact, but that the evidence of trauma they had been presented with, and its implications for the future health and cultural integrity of its subjects, was extremely strong and disturbing. Read the executive summary and download the full report here: http://www.livingunderdrones.org/
 
Details of individual stikes on the next page
 
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Since December 6th the United States has carried out six unmanned airstrikes:

December 10th: Four 'militants' were killed in an airstrike against a vehicle and compound in the village of Khadar Khel, Datta Khel, North Waziristan. No senior al Qaida or Taliban operatives were thought to be amongst the casualties.

December 14th: Two missiles were fired at a vehicle travelling through the village of Spalga, Miramshah, North Waziristan. Four 'militants' were killed in the attack.

December 16th: The United States carried out their first unmanned airstrike outside of North Waziristan since late September. Unmanned aircraft fired missiles at a vehicle travelling in the Tirah Valley, Khyber. Seven 'militants' believed to be from Swat and South Waziristan were reportedly killed in the attack. The airstrike was only the second undertaken within the Khyber region since the US began its unmanned campaign in 2004.

December 17th: The Khyber region remained the focus of US airstrikes for the second day running. Three separate strikes reportedly resulted in the deaths of 54 'militants'. Fifteen were reported killed in an attack on a compound in the village of Shandana in the Tirah Valley; seven were killed in an airstrike on a similar building in the village of Nakai, Malik Deen Khel. According to reports, 32 members of the Lashkar-e-Islam were killed in an attack on a compound in the village Speen Drang, Tirah Valley. As with all recent attacks no senior al Qaida or Taliban operatives were amongst the casualties.

According to the Long War Journal the recent relocation of the unmanned campaign to the Khyber region may represent a shift in US strategy. The Khyber – and in particular the Tirah Valley – has become a hub of Taliban and al Qaida activity. This came in response to Pakistani military operations in South Waziristan in late 2009.

 

By Nick Watts, Defence Correspondent, Great North News Services

British military sources are confident that the Afghan National Army will be ready to take over operations from ISAF by 2014. At the Lisbon summit NATO committed itself to hand over counter insurgency operations to the Afghan National Army (ANA) by the end of 2014. Recently the British prime minister spoke of beginning to withdraw personnel as early as next year. British experience of partnering with 3215 Brigade ANA, which was raised in February this year, is cited as a good example of how this ambition is progressing. Much depends on this process succeeding.

NATO leaders recognize that the way to ensure that ISAF can hand over by 2014 is to step up the tempo of training of the ANA. The target for recruited and trained strength of the ANA is 171,600 by November 2011. Currently there are 144,000 trained soldiers in 28 Kandaks (Battalions). Following the transition of ISAF forces from Mentoring to partnering the emphasis has shifted to putting ANA forces in the lead on operations, with British and other ISAF forces in support. This has meant that the quality of soldiers needs to be raised.

The priority of the ANA is to concentrate on counter IED training (CIED), which Afghan soldiers take pride in doing well. Another priority is to improve medical training. In parallel with this is the need to improve absenteeism, which is addressed through better pay, and illiteracy which is being addressed by putting 34,000 soldiers through literacy training.

Putting the ANA into the front line more has had the effect of raising their self esteem, according to MOD commanders. The NATO Training Mission – Afghanistan (NTMA) estimates that as of November 2010, of 28 ANA Kandaks, seven are capable of undertaking operations with minimal advice; ten remain reliant on ISAF for direct assistance; nine are at an early stage of development and a further two are still being assessed. British officers admit that the ANA is being fashioned from the bottom up and that future senior leaders will emerge from the current cadres of middle ranking officers. Technical training is increasing alongside tactical training, but this will take time.

British experience with 3215 ANA Brigade has been positive. A small operation OMID DO was undertaken earlier this year, which the ANA planned and lead. There were no major tactical engagements with insurgents but the new partnering system proved itself. A subsequent larger scale operation OMID CHAR was launched in support of the governor of Garesh district, again with ANA elements taking a leading role. British commanders are upbeat about progress, but admit that General Petreaus's ambition to increase the tempo of operations against the insurgents will require a close eye to be kept on how the ANA progresses.

 

Since November 3rd the United States has carried out 10 unmanned airstrikes.

November 7th: The US carried out two airstrikes in North Waziristan today. Unmanned Predators or Reapers first attacked a vehicle and a compound in the village of Ghulam Khan in the Miramshah area. Nine 'militants' were reported killed in the attack.

The second attack targeted a vehicle in the village of Maizer, Datta Khel. Five 'foreigners' – the term used to describe Arab and Central Asian operatives – were killed in the strike.

No senior al Qaida or Taliban figures were reported killed in the attack.

November 11th: Six missiles were fired at a compound in the village of Gulli Khel, Ghulam Khan. The attack targeted a group of 'fighters' returning to North Waziristan from Khost province in Afghanistan. Of the six killed in the attack none were believed to be senior operatives. However the nature of the strike suggests that a senior figure or wanted operative was the main focus of the attack.

November 13th: An unmanned airstrike targeted a compound and a vehicle in the village of Ahmad Khel in the Mir Ali region of North Waziristan. Whilst Pakistani officials claimed four 'militants' were killed in the attack, reports from the scene also suggested that civilians may have been killed in the strike.

November 19th: Three 'militants' were killed in an attack on a vehicle travelling in the village of Norak, Mir Ali. No senior al Qaida or Taliban operatives were believed to be amongst the casualties.

November 21st: The US struck a compound and vehicle in the village of Khaddi, near Miramshah. Pakistani intelligence officials initially indicated that six 'militants' were killed in the attack. However later press reports speculated that nine 'militants' were killed and that three civilians harbouring operatives were also amongst the casualties.

November 22nd: The second attack in as many days targeted a vehicle and motorcycle in the village of Khushali, Miramshah. Five 'militants' were reported killed in the attack, yet none were believed to be senior al Qaida or Taliban operatives.

November 26th: An unmanned airstrike today against a vehicle travelling within the village of Pir Kali, Mir Ali, North Waziristan. The area is known to host a number of al Qaida operatives. Yet of the four killed in the attack none were deemed to be senior figures.

November 28th: The US undertook a similar strike against a vehicle as it travelled within the village of Hasan Khel, Mir Ali. Despite the continued concentration on a region known to host al Qaida operatives, the four 'militants' killed in the strike were not thought be senior figures in this movement or the Taliban.

December 6th: After a period of relative quiet the United States today struck a vehicle and a compound in the village of Kyshore, Datta Khel. The U.S. drone first attacked the 'militants' vehicle, killing two whilst another three escaped. The drone then attacked a shop hiding the others. This strike killed the three 'militants' whilst wounding three others.

According to the Long War Journal the United States has carried 106 unmanned airstrikes to date throughout 2010. This is a 50% increase from last year, and just over 50% of all airstrikes undertaken since 2004. The focus of attacks has overwhelmingly been North Waziristan. To date, 92% of all strikes have been carried out here in comparison with 7% in South Waziristan. Interestingly there has been a significant shift in the targeting of al Qaida/Taliban factions. In 2009 the main focus of attack was the Mehsud network. However 2010 saw an increase in attacks on Bahadar network and to a lesser extent the Haqqanis.

 

Since October 13th the United States has carried out 12 unmanned air strikes.

October 15th: The United States today launched a pair of unmanned air strikes against villages in the Mir Ali area of North Waziristan. The first strike hit a compound in the village of Marchi Khel, killing five 'militants'. The second attack on a vehicle in the village of Aziz Khel killed an additional four 'militants'. No senior Taliban or al Qaida operatives were reported killed in the attacks.

October 18th: Six missiles were fired at a compound and vehicle in Sunzalai village, Datta Khel, North Waziristan. Six 'militants' were reported killed in the attack, with an additional five injured. Interestingly, four Predators appeared to circle over the scene after the attack.

October 27th: The United States launched its first strike in nine days with two attacks on targets in North Waziristan. The first attack struck a compound in the village of Spin Wam, Mir Ali. The target was a house belonging to a militant identified as Nasimullah Khan. According to the Associated Press foreign fighters were reported to be staying at the house. Two 'militants' were reported killed in the attack.

The second strike hit a vehicle in the village of Degan, Datta Khel. Two Arab al Qaida members and two 'Westerners' were reported killed in the attack.

In both instances, the exact targets of the strikes remain unclear, and no senior operatives were thought to be amongst the victims.

October 28th: The US launched their third attack in two days against a compound in the village of Ismail Khan, Datta Khel. Seven 'militants' were reported killed and were wounded.

November 1st: Two missiles were fired at a compound in the village of Haider Khan, Mir Ali, North Waziristan. According to Pakistani security sources the compound belonged to a local tribesman and was believed to be sheltering local 'militants'. Six 'militants' were reported killed; however none were thought to be senior operatives.

November 3rd: Thirteen 'militants' were killed in three separate airstrikes within North Waziristan. In the first strike four 'militants' were reported killed after two missiles were fired at a vehicle in Qutub Khel, a suburb of Miramshah. The vehicle was reportedly laden with arms and ammunition.

In the second strike another vehicle was targeted in the village of Kaiso Khel, Datta Khel. Five 'militants' were reported killed in this strike.

Yet another vehicle was attacked in a strike in the Mir Ali area. Four 'militants' were reported killed in this attack. Yet despite the intensity of today's airstrikes, no senior al Qaida or Taliban operatives were believed to be amongst the dead.
November 7th: Two airstrikes today in North Waziristan killed 14 'militants', including five 'foreigners'.

In the first attack missiles were fired on a compound and vehicle in the village of Ghulam Khan, Miramshah. Nine 'militants' were killed in this strike.

The second airstrike of the day targeted a vehicle in the village of Maizer, Datta Khel. Five 'foreigners' – a term used to describe Arab or Central Asian al Qaida operatives – were reported killed. However in both instances no senior operatives were believed to be amongst the casualties.

In comparison with last month's Drone Wars, the United States appears to have dramatically scaled back its unmanned campaign. Nevertheless, the Long War Journal reports that the US has conducted 97 airstrikes to date in 2010. Should the attacks continue with the same intensity throughout the rest of November/early December then the United States is likely to double its tally of unmanned strikes in comparison with 2009.

North Waziristan remains the overwhelming focus for the majority of airstrikes. However on the 8th November the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan (TTP) claimed that six Taliban groups in South Waziristan had now joined the larger organization. The groups have all reportedly expressed their confidence in the leadership of the TTP's Hakeemullah Mehsud. As a result of increased TTP activities in South Waziristan, it will be interesting to monitor how many airstrikes are undertaken here throughout the rest of 2010.

 

Since August 27th the United States has carried out 31 unmanned airstrikes.

September 3rd: The United States carried out two airstrikes in North Waziristan. The first attack saw two missiles fired at a compound near Miramshah. Six 'local militants' were killed in the attack, with none believed to be senior al Qaida or Taliban figures. A second strike hit a compound in the town of Data Khel. Nine Taliban fighters were reported killed in this attack, including a local commander known as Inayatullah.

September 4th: A third airstrike in the space of two days focussed upon a compound and vehicle in the Data Khel region of North Waziristan. Between five and eight militants were reported in the attack on the village of Mizer.

September 6th: Two missiles were fired at a vehicle in the village of Khar Qamar, Data Khel, North Waziristan. Pakistani intelligence officials claimed that five militants were killed in the attack, although none were believed to be senior al Qaida or Taliban operatives. However, the Long War Journal indicates that not only is Data Khel the stronghold of Hafiz Gul Badahar – a leading Taliban commander – it is also a known hub for al Qaida's top leadership.

September 8th: There were four unmanned airstrikes over twenty-fours as the United States' campaign in North Waziristan gathered momentum. The first strike against a compound in the town of Danda Darpa Khel reportedly killed ten militants. This was followed by another attack claiming the lives of four Haqqani network fighters. A third airstrike took place in the town of Ambor Shaga, Data Khel. In this attack three missiles were fired at a vehicle, killing four militants. No senior al Qaida or Taliban operatives were reported killed in these strikes.

The fourth airstrike of the day focussed upon the town of Miramshah. Three missiles were fired at a compound resulting in the death of six Taliban fighters and five injuries. It was reported that some of the victims were Afghans. Whilst no senior operatives at the time were believed to have been killed in this attack, the Taliban reportedly cordoned off the area and attempted to recover the dead and the wounded.

However on September 30th reports emerged that eight Germans and two Britons were amongst the dead in the Data Khel airstrike. They were involved in the recently exposed plot to conduct a range of Mumbai-style attacks throughout Europe. The casualties also included an Islamic Jihad Group commander who trained Europeans to carry out attacks on their home soil.

The Islamic Jihad Group – a splinter faction of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan – is known to operate a 'German Taliban village' in Waziristan.

Today was the first time that the United States carried out four airstrikes within a 24 hour period.

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Since the 25th July the United States has carried out five unmanned airstrikes:

August 14th: The U.S. carried out its first airstrike in almost three weeks on a compound in the village of Issori, near Miramshah, North Waziristan. Reports suggested that twelve al Qaida or Taliban operatives sheltering in the compound were killed in the attack. None were believed to be senior figures.

August 21st: Reports claimed that the United States fired four missiles from an unmanned aircraft at vehicles and a compound outside the village of Anghar Kala, Miramshah, North Waziristan. The airstrike killed six people, including 'foreigners'.

August 23rd: An unmanned airstrike targeted a compound in the village of Danda Darpa Khel, Miramshah, North Waziristan. Five terrorists and seven civilians were killed in the attack. In a second attack, five Taliban fighters were killed when UAVs fired two missiles at a compound in the village of Derga Mandi. The latter strike was the 53rd conducted by the United States this year. This meant that the United States had now matched its entire strike total for the previous year.

August 27th: The United States changed the focus of its unmanned airstrikes to the tribal agency of Kurram. An unmanned airstrike hit two vehicles near a compound in the village of Shahidano. Whilst no senior al Qaida or Taliban figures were amongst the four killed in the attack, Pakistani sources claimed the airstrike targeted members of Hakeemullah Mehsud, leader of the Tehreek-e-Taliban. According to the Long War Journal the Taliban regrouped in Kurram after the Pakistani military launched its offensive in South Waziristan in 2009. The Taliban in Kurram are commanded by Maluvi Noor Jamal, who is regarded as a potential successor to Hakeemullah.

 

As reviewed by Madeleine Moon MP

If you want to understand how we came to the current impasse and difficulties ISAF forces are facing in Afghanistan then Ann Jones' description of life in Kabul between 2002 and 2005 is a good place to start. The book chronicles the hope with which the American forces were greeted in 2002 through to the exhaustion as reconstruction and development fail to take place; attention shifts to Iraq and the Talban re-emerge as a powerful force.

Ann gives the back history to Afghanistan, its times of peace and affluence and attempts to change and modernise this deeply traditional male dominated society. She neatly lays out British failure to establish control and the use of Afghanistan to fight proxy wars by Pakistan, Russia and the US. The terrible impact of years of war are starkly set out in figures. In 1979 the population of Afghanistan was 16 million. When the US quit in 1992, over two million Afghans had been killed, 600,000 to two million maimed, one and a half million driven insane, two million were internal refuges while six million had fled to Pakistan or Iran. All of this before the mujadaden civil war, the rise of the Taliban and the invasion of 2002.

Grim facts cascade from Ann's record of her life in Afghanistan. The lives of women and girls are starkly set out with the routine use of rape, confinement, beatings, murder and sale as their lot in life from the moment of birth. In 2001 Physicians for Human Rights reported that 70% of Afghan women suffered from major depressions, nearly two thirds were suicidal and 16% had attempted suicide. The granting of equal rights and duties before the law to men and women by the 2004 constitution is shown to be sham. The Chief Justice setting out the three privileges accorded to women lists them as, praying, obeying the husband and restraining from bad acts. It is estimated that 95% of Afghan women are subject to violence, living their lives only at the pleasure and command of men.

Education is seen as the way to improve the lives and opportunities of the people of developing countries. Afghanistan's education system was described by the UN as the worst in the world but sadly the NGO and military investment in education by 2005 has made little impact on literacy and numeracy. Donor aid for education fails as 80-90% of aid goes into US contractors and sub-contractors US bank accounts leaving only 10-20% spent in Afghanistan. Action Aid paint a rosier picture estimating that only 60% of aid is phantom, spent on accounting, technical assistance and international experts.

Below the statistics and evidence of failure are the human stories which make this an enjoyable read. Ann paints a picture of people struggling to make a life in the midst of chaos and the clashing to two cultures. The description of the holiday journey taken to Mazir-i-Sharif through the Salang tunnel sums up the chaos, the unpredictability and the everyday dangers of life in Afghanistan while highlighting the difficulty of moving goods south to meet the voracious needs of a military campaign.

With her class of women students Ann celebrates International Women's Day and goes through a list of rights for women. The right of a woman to make choices is one the woman struggle to comprehend. The description of life inside the Kabul women's prison is as cold and stark as the reasons behind the women's imprisonment. The women live a life of Catch 22, they are guilty because they are in the prison, they are in the prison because they are guilty. Afghanistan has many laws but not one against rape. Rape is described as a subsection of adultery. A woman who is raped is imprisoned and charged with adultery and investigated to see if she consented to the rape. Compensation can be given for crimes often in the form of fat sheep, new copies of the Koran and women as second or third wives or for household labour.

The invading military forces and the NGO's are mostly painted in a negative light. They drive up the cost of housing for ordinary Afghans, seduce professionals away from jobs to act as guides and interpreters, create chaos in the streets and ignore the views and opinions of Afghans when planning aid and development. I smiled at the joke that when men are put in charge of an aid project they think first of concrete.

This is a book about survival and failure between 2002-2005. The personal stories of survival within the chaos of war, invasion and a society which discounts the lives of 50% of its population are riveting. The failure is of the west to understand the world it has entered. There is a lack of engagement with the population, peace, infrastructure and governance but corruption, promotion of warlords and the vacuum into which the Taliban re-emerged funded by drugs.

Ann's account of her years in Afghanistan paints a picture of wasted opportunity, wasted money and wasted talent as the focus moves to Iraq. We are now five years on from Ann's departure from Afghanistan. Recently in the voting lobby I spoke to a colleague who had just returned from Afghanistan and he talked of visiting a northern town which was orderly, growing in affluence and where he had visited a factory where men and women worked together. I hope he is right.

Kabul in winter, by Ann Jones is published by Picador

 

In July 2010 the Chief of the General Staff Sir David Richards (CDS-designate) hosted a special showing of The Great Game, a series of 12 short plays about the culture and history of Afghanistan, at the Tricycle Theatre in London. He took his own immediate staff, people from the MoD including the Second Permanent Secretary, a senior Treasury official and other opinion-leaders.

The programme notes included an excellent history of modern Afghanistan from the 1830's to the present day by Jane Shallice, who is also a member of the Stop the War Coalition. It is reproduced here by her kind permission and that of the theatre, whose Director Nicolas Kent commissioned the works and which, with the active support of General Richards, is taking them to be performed across the United States (including Washington DC.)

You can read the whole history here.

 

Since the 29th June the United States has carried out four unmanned airstrikes:

July 10th: The United States' first unmanned airstrike in two weeks was against a compound in the village of Sheerani Mada Khel near Miramshah, North Waziristan. Pakistani officials reported that between 10 and 14 'militants' were killed in the strike. However at this time none were believed to be senior al Qaeda or Taliban figures.

July 24th: Several missiles were fired during an unmanned strike against a hideout used by the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan in the Angora Adda area of South Waziristan. The strike killed 16 Taliban 'militants,' however none were deemed senior operatives.

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Often unreported by the Western media, strikes against suspected terrorist sites in Pakistan from unmanned aerial vehicles are a regular occurrence. But this is not a cost-free option, as the suicide bombing that killed 7 CIA operatives showed - and that incident can be linked directly back to networks hit repeatedly in Pakistan.

Many of the strikes are chronicled by our friends at The Long War Journal. Their analysis shows that casualty levels have risen drastically over the last 3 years: 73 Taliban/ Al Qaeda in 2007; 286 Taliban/Al Qaeda and 31 civilians in 2008; 404 Taliban/ Al Qaeda and 43 civilians up to the end of September. Almost all of these took place in the tribal agencies of North and South Waziristan.

The purpose of these strikes (many of which are unacknowledged or revealed in Pakistan when "civilians" are killed) is to disrupt Al Qaeda networks and Taliban operations in Afghanistan, plus Pakistani Taliban leaders who threaten that state. It should also be noted that more than 70% of US and NATO supplies pass through Pakistan's north-west provinces.

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By Adam Dempsey, Research Associate, U K Defence Forum

On the 13th January the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a Freedom of Information request asking the US government to disclose the legal basis for the use of predator drones to conduct 'targeted killings.' From the very outset of the war on terror US administrations have used unmanned drones to target and kill terrorists. More recently, use of unmanned drones has expanded within Pakistan. As a result of the expansion of drone activities the ACLU argues that the American public has a right to know whether the programme is compliant with international law. The ACLU is also keen to establish whether the programme seeks to minimise the number of civilian casualties.

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Since the 1st February the United States have carried out three airstrikes. The targets were:

2nd February – Five unmanned US strike aircraft are reported to have fired 18 missiles at a camp and vehicles in the village of Datta Khel, North Waziristan. According to the Long War Journal this is the largest recorded US airstrike in Pakistan. This also indicates that top al Qaida, Taliban or Haqqani leaders may have been targeted. Seventeen terrorists were reported killed in the attack. However none of the reported casualties have been al Qaida or Taliban leaders.

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By Scott Stewart

On July 11, 2010, al-Malahim Media, the media arm of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), published the first edition of its new English-language online magazine "Inspire." The group had tried to release the magazine in late June, but for some reason — whether a technical glitch, virus (as rumored on some of the jihadist message boards) or cyberattack — most of the initial file released was unreadable.

The magazine was produced by someone who has a moderate amount of technological savvy, who speaks English well and who uses a lot of American idioms and phraseology. We did not note any hint of British or South Asian influence in the writing. A government source has suggested to us (and we have seen the claim repeated in the media) that Inspire was produced by a U.S citizen who was born in Saudi Arabia named Samir Khan. Khan is a well-known cyber-jihadist — indeed, The New York Times did an excellent story on Khan in October 2007. Given Khan's background, history of publishing English-language jihadist material and the fact that he reportedly left the United States for Yemen in 2009 and has not returned, it does seem plausible that he is the driving force behind Inspire.

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Since the 17th February the United States have carried out eight airstrikes. The targets were:

February 17th - A Predator attack that targeting a Taliban compound in the village of Tapi near Miramshah, the main town in North Waziristan. The strike killed Sheikh Mansoor, a key al Qaida military leader based in North Waziristan. Pakistani news sources reported that the airstrike left a number of other important militants dead

February 18th – An unmanned US Predator fired two missiles at a compound and a vehicle in Danda Darpa Khel just outside of Miramshah, North Waziristan. Four Haqqani Network fighters were initially reported killed, including Mohammed Haqqani, one of twelve sons of Jalaluddin Haqqani.

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Since the 19th March the United States have carried out five unmanned airstrikes. The targets were:

March 21st: Unmanned Predators and Reapers struck a compound in the village of Inzar, North Waziristan. The targeted compound belonged to a relative of a militant commander. Initial reports indicated that four terrorists were killed. However none of these were reported to be senior al Qaida or Taliban leaders. The Taliban responded to the attacks by killing four "U.S. spies." A note found attached to the bodies stated that:

"Spies are spies, and they will come to the same fate as these men. Do not spy for America."

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Since the 12th April the United States has carried out seven unmanned airstrikes. The targets were:

April 14th: Unmanned predators or reapers fired two Hellfire missiles at a car in the village of Ambor Shagha, Miramshah, North Waziristan. According to Pakistani intelligence sources four militants were killed in the strike and an additional three were wounded. No senior al Qaeda or Taliban figures have been reported killed in the strike.

Read more...  

International Security Assistance Force - Afghanistan have recently released the following statement:

Three months after the launch of Operation Moshtarak, clear signs of progress are evident throughout central Helmand.

"There are many positive indicators, especially in the areas of development and economic growth," said Major General Nick Carter, commander of ISAF Regional Command (South). "We have roads being built, district centres being reconstructed, and a lot of minor infrastructure projects underway."

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The Secretary of State for Defence (The Rt Hon Dr Liam Fox MP): The significant increase in the number of international troops in southern Afghanistan is enabling commanders to make improvements in the laydown and command arrangements of coalition forces in the region.  The first of these was the handover of security responsibility for Musa Qaleh district in Helmand province from UK to US troops on 27 March.  This transfer allowed UK troops in Musa Qaleh to be redeployed to the population centres of central Helmand where they have increased ISAF's capacity to protect the Afghan civilian population from the threat posed by the insurgency, and to train and partner with the Afghan National Security Forces.

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