Winning: The Friendly Skies Of Waziristan

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January 9, 2012: The U.S. CIA UAV campaign against Islamic terrorists in Pakistan (mainly North Waziristan) has been very effective. Al Qaeda has been rendered impotent by all the losses to leadership and technical personnel (especially bomb builders). Because of this, last year most of the UAV missile attacks were against Taliban and Haqqani Network leaders. These were located through various means, one of the most important being a network of informants on the ground. This is not an expensive operation, and most of the cash goes to local power brokers who allow it to happen. The informants themselves get up to $1,000 for a tip that reveals where a terrorist leader or key operative will be. But it's not just about money. The Taliban have made themselves very unpopular in North Waziristan (4,700 square kilometers, 365,000 people and on the Afghan border). The Taliban there are a combination of local tribesmen who have joined as well as Taliban from elsewhere in the tribal territories that fled there for sanctuary. Most of the locals are intimidated into compliance by threats and the generally ruthless attitude of the Taliban. The most irritating element is the harsh lifestyle rules the Taliban impose. That and the risk of being too close to an American missile aimed at some of the Taliban.

There is some risk to being an informer. The Taliban have formed a special death squad (the Khorasan Mujahideen) that searches for real or (usually) suspected informants and executes them. But the rewards, and satisfaction at seeing some Taliban die, is considered worth the risk to many local tribesmen.

Since last November, the CIA has halted its UAV attacks while negotiations (a polite term for it) with Pakistan are carried out to decide whether more, or less, Pakistani territory will be available to the CIA UAVs. The other major Pakistani terrorist sanctuary, in Quetta (across from the border from the Afghan provinces of Helmand and Kandahar) has never been available for CIA UAV missile attacks.

The current halt has allowed the Taliban and al Qaeda to recover. Terrorist leaders can now move about and begin negotiating better relationships with the Pakistani government and other terror groups. There is also a desire for revenge, which can be seen in an effort to unite the Pakistani Islamic terror groups to halt attacks in Pakistan and concentrate on American and NATO troops in Afghanistan or elsewhere. The Pakistani military is willing to go along with this, at least unofficially.

 

 

 


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