US drones are pounding Pakistan's North Waziristan. Here's why.
US drones have stepped up bombing raids to combat new alliances cropping up between disparate militants coming to Pakistan's North Waziristan region.
After a CIA Predator drone fired a missile in the village of Issori in North Waziristan last month, Jamshed Khan and other tribesmen rushed to the mud home that was the target. Mr. Khan recalls that as the tribesmen started to remove bodies, a group of men drove up, offered prayers for the victims, and left.Skip to next paragraph
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The tribesmen say the visitors were well known: Some belong to Al Qaeda and some are the followers of powerful leader Hafiz Gul Bahadur, who once had ties to Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), the main Taliban umbrella group there.
Thousands of TTP militants fled here after last year’s military crackdown in South Waziristan, adding to the already mixed crowd of militants seeking shelter there post-9/11. And despite diverse nationalities, they appear able to work in sync.
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“You have to hold the ground permanently after cleaning up the militants rather than leaving the footprints of boots,” says a senior security official, citing military operations in Swat, Bajaur, South Waziristan, and other areas, as well as the Army’s commitment to help victim’s of the country’s devastating floods.
That reluctance appears to have driven a new US predator battle against Al Qaeda and Taliban commanders and militants who turned North Waziristan into what analysts are calling one of the most dangerous places in the world.
Since early this month, the US has launched 12 drone attacks on mud houses believed to be militant hideouts or training centers, killing 77 people including foreign militants.
Old Jihadi contacts to get new alliances
Commanders use their old jihadi contacts to recruit young warriors into their own training camp. The head trainer usually belongs to Al Qaeda, but now contacts are broadening to create a more complicated network of alliances.
The Punjabi Taliban – so named for their roots out of southern Punjab, and distinguishable by the fact that their members do not speak Pashto and traditionally have ties with groups such as Jaish-e-Mohammed – now operate out of North Waziristan and fight alongside Pakistani Taliban and Al Qaeda.