Pakistan drone strike doesn’t kill dead al-Qaeda leader again

From CBS, Dec. 11:

Sources tell CBS News the al Qaeda operative believed killed in a drone strike in Pakistan this week is Saleh al-Somali, who was in charge of external operations for the group. He was considered one of a half dozen top Qaeda operatives.

Saleh al-Somali’s position as al Qaeda’s external operations boss means he was in charge of plotting against the U.S. and Europe…

Earlier, Pakistan media had incorrectly reported that the strike killed al Qaeda’s number 3 in command, Abu Yahya al-Libi.

Previously, al-Somali had worked in tribal areas of Pakistan with newly arrived Westerners recruited by al Qaeda.

Intelligence officials have confirmed that the pace of attacks by armed unmanned aerial vehicles, conducted largely by the CIA, has increased during the Obama administration.

The strikes have fanned anti-American sentiment in Pakistan because they have caused many civilian deaths. Since Jan. 28, 2008, there have been at least 67 suspected U.S. missile strikes into Pakistan, killing more than 721 people. Intelligence officials believe that at least 56 were militants, according to Pakistani intelligence officials and witnesses interviewed by The Associated Press after each strike.

So, 56 “militants” killed out of 721 deaths. And we can assume that at least a sizable percentage of the loved ones of the remaining 665 joined the insurgency to seek revenge. If anyone at the CIA is bothering to do the math, the relentless drone strikes are utterly counter-productive.

Now, as to these supposed al-Qaeda leaders… We haven’t heard of this Saleh al-Somali before, but the supposed Abu Yahya al-Libi sure gets around. Last year, an Abu Yahia al-Libi was reported to have escaped from a prison in Afghanistan. A supposed Abu Laith al-Libi was reported killed in a drone strike in Pakistan last year. (Pakistan’s then-ruler Pervez Musharraf was apparently only informed as the operation was underway, and the hit was later invoked in defense of Colombia’s air strike on FARC guerillas in Ecuador.) An Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi was reported to have killed himself in a Libyan prison this May. Then there’s Abu Faraj al-Libi who was reported captured in Pakistan in 2007, and who Wikipedia informs us is now at Guantánamo Bay.

We hope the CIA is doing a better job of keeping track of all these al-Libis than we (or the mainstream media) are.

See our last post on Pakistan.

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  1. Blackwater loses CIA drone contract
    As if there isn’t enough paranoia about Blackwater operations in Pakistan… On Dec. 12, the New York Times informs us the CIA has terminated a contract with “the security company formerly called Blackwater Worldwide” that allowed the company to load bombs on drones at secret bases in Pakistan and Afghanistan. On Dec. 11, the Times reported in a front-page story (citing the usual anonymous sources) that Blackwater personnel “participated in some of the CIA’s most sensitive activities—clandestine raids with agency officers against people suspected of being insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan and the transporting of detainees, according to former company employees and intelligence officials.” BBC News later that same day quoted a Blackwater statement saying the company was “never under contract to participate in covert raids with CIA or Special Operations.”

  2. Pakistan still playing both sides?
    A front-page New York Times story Dec. 15 asserts that Pakistan has been “rebuffing” US pressure to crack down on Siraj Haqqani (the son of Jalaluddin Haqqani), “longtime asset of Pakistan’s spy agency who uses the tribal area of North Waziristan as his sanctuary” and is said to be collaborating with the Taliban insurgency across the border in Afghanistan. Note that while Pakistan’s supposed “anti-Taliban offensive” has targeted South Waziristan, the US drone strikes have largely targeted North Waziristan…

    Interesting, eh?

  3. US bombs Pakistan —again
    A series of up to 10 strikes from five drones in quick succession killed 15 at Datta Khel, North Waziristan Dec. 17. Arab members of al-Qaeda were among the dead, unnamed Pakistani intelligence officials told the Washington Post. (WP, Dec. 17)

  4. US bombs Pakistan —again
    Three suspected militants were killed in the third US drone strike on Pakistan’s tribal district of North Waziristan in two days Dec. 18. The latest attack was on a village in the Dattakhel region close to North Waziristan’s main town of Miran Shah. (BBC News, Dec. 18)

  5. US bombs Pakistan —again
    A suspected US drone strike killed at least two militants Dec. 31 at Machikhel village, 25 kilometers east of Miranshah in North Waziristan. (Dawn, Dec. 31) Another 13 were killed in a drone strike Dec. 26 on Saidgi village, seven kilometers north of Miranshah. (AFP, Dec. 26)