Showing posts with label cia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label cia. Show all posts

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Pakistan: Al-Qaida No. 2 at house hit by US drone

Pakistan, Al-Qaida No.2
A CIA drone strike Monday, June 4, 2012, targeted al-Qaida's second in command, Abu Yahia al-Libi, in Pakistan

PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AP) -- Pakistan has evidence that al-Qaida's second-in-command was in a house destroyed by a U.S. drone strike in the country's northwest tribal region, but it is unclear whether he was killed, intelligence officials said Tuesday.

U.S. officials have said they were targeting Abu Yahya al-Libi in Monday's strike in Khassu Khel village in the North Waziristan tribal area and were "optimistic" he was among those killed. They spoke on condition of anonymity because of the classified nature of the drone program.

If al-Libi is confirmed killed, he would be the latest in the dozen-plus senior commanders removed in the clandestine U.S. war against al-Qaida since Navy SEALs killed Osama bin Laden last year.

Militants and residents in the area told Pakistani agents that al-Libi was in the house when it was hit, Pakistani intelligence officials said. They said the mud and brick house was completely destroyed in the attack.

A vehicle used by al-Libi was destroyed during the strike, said one of the officials. Agents intercepted a militant phone call indicating an Arab was killed in the attack, but it is unclear if they were talking about al-Libi, who was born in Libya, said the official.

A local Taliban chief said al-Libi's guard and driver were killed in the strike, but the al-Qaida commander was not there. Al-Libi did survive a previous strike, said the Taliban chief.

The intelligence officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media. The Taliban spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of being targeted by the Pakistani army.

The White House maintains a list of terrorist targets to be killed or captured, compiled by the military and the CIA and ultimately approved by the president.

The U.S. has stepped up drone strikes in Pakistan recently, carrying out seven in less than two weeks. The flurry follows a relative lull driven by tensions between Washington and Islamabad over American airstrikes last year that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers.

Pakistan seized the opportunity to renegotiate its relationship with the U.S. and demanded Washington stop drone strikes in the country - a demand the U.S. has ignored. The attacks are unpopular in Pakistan because many people believe they mostly kill civilians, an allegation disputed by the U.S.

Pakistan called Deputy U.S. Ambassador Richard Hoagland to the Foreign Ministry on Tuesday to protest the drone strikes.

"He was informed that the drone strikes were unlawful, against international law and a violation of Pakistan's sovereignty," said a statement sent by the Foreign Ministry to reporters.

Members of the Pakistani government and military have supported the strikes in the past, but that cooperation has come under strain as the relationship between the two countries has deteriorated.

The State Department's Rewards for Justice program had set a $1 million reward for information leading to al-Libi, who had filmed numerous propaganda videos urging attacks on U.S. targets after he escaped a prison at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan in 2005.

Al-Libi took the second-in-command spot when Egyptian-born Ayman al-Zawahri took charge of al-Qaida after bin Laden's death. As al-Qaida's de facto general manager, al-Libi is responsible for running the group's day-to-day operations in Pakistan's tribal areas and manages outreach to al-Qaida's regional affiliates.

"This is one of the more prominent names" among the targets of drone strikes in Pakistan, added former CIA officer Paul Pillar.

He said al-Libi's death would help bolster the CIA's push to continue the drone program despite the continued political resistance from Pakistan and collateral damage.

Al-Libi's death would be "another reason not to accept Pakistan's demand for an end to drone wars," added Brookings Institute's Bruce Riedel, a former CIA officer and adviser to the White House on Afghanistan and Pakistan policy.

News by AP

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Sunday, January 22, 2012

How Pakistan helps the U.S. drone campaign

US Drone
US Drone
(Reuters) - The death of a senior al Qaeda leader in a U.S. drone strike in Pakistan's tribal badlands, the first strike in almost two months, signaled that the U.S.-Pakistan intelligence partnership is still in operation despite political tensions.

The Jan 10 strike -- and its follow-up two days later -- were joint operations, a Pakistani security source based in the tribal areas told Reuters.

They made use of Pakistani "spotters" on the ground and demonstrated a level of coordination that both sides have sought to downplay since tensions erupted in January 2011 with the killing of two Pakistanis by a CIA contractor in Lahore.

"Our working relationship is a bit different from our political relationship," the source told Reuters, requesting anonymity. "It's more productive."

U.S. and Pakistani sources told Reuters that the target of the Jan 10 attack was Aslam Awan, a Pakistani national from Abbottabad, the town where Osama bin Laden was killed last May by a U.S. commando team.

They said he was targeted in a strike by a U.S.-operated drone directed at what news reports said was a compound near the town of Miranshah in the border province of North Waziristan.

That strike broke an undeclared eight-week hiatus in attacks by the armed, unmanned drones that patrol the tribal areas and are a key weapon in U.S. President Barack Obama's counter-terrorism strategy.

The sources described Awan, also known by the nom-de-guerre Abdullah Khorasani, as a significant figure in the remaining core leadership of al Qaeda, which U.S. officials say has been sharply reduced by the drone campaign. Most of the drone attacks are conducted as part of a clandestine CIA operation.

The Pakistani source, who helped target Awan, could not confirm that he was killed, but the U.S. official said he was. European officials said Awan had spent time in London and had ties to British extremists before returning to Pakistan.

The source, who says he runs a network of spotters primarily in North and South Waziristan, described for the first time how U.S.-Pakistani cooperation on strikes works, with his Pakistani agents keeping close tabs on suspected militants and building a pattern of their movements and associations.

"We run a network of human intelligence sources," he said. "Separately, we monitor their cell and satellite phones.

"Thirdly, we run joint monitoring operations with our U.S. and UK friends," he added, noting that cooperation with British intelligence was also extensive.

Pakistani and U.S. intelligence officers, using their own sources, hash out a joint "priority of targets lists" in regular face-to-face meetings, he said.

"Al Qaeda is our top priority," he said.

He declined to say where the meetings take place.

Once a target is identified and "marked," his network coordinates with drone operators on the U.S. side. He said the United States bases drones outside Kabul, likely at Bagram airfield about 25 miles north of the capital.

From spotting to firing a missile "hardly takes about two to three hours," he said.


It was impossible to verify the source's claims and American experts, who decline to discuss the drone program, say the Pakistanis' cooperation has been less helpful in the past.

U.S. officials have complained that when information on drone strikes was shared with the Pakistanis beforehand, the targets were often tipped off, allowing them to escape.

Drone strikes have been a sore point with the public and Pakistani politicians, who describe them as violations of sovereignty that produce unacceptable civilian casualties.

The last strike before January had been on Nov 16, 10 days before 24 Pakistani soldiers were killed in what NATO says was an inadvertent cross-border attack on a Pakistani border post.

That incident sent U.S.-Pakistan relations into the deepest crisis since Islamabad joined the U.S.-led war on militancy following the Sept 11, 2001 attacks. On Thursday, Pakistani foreign minister Hina Rabbani Khar said ties were "on hold" while Pakistan completes a review of the alliance.

The United States sees Pakistan as critical to its efforts to wind down the war in Afghanistan, where U.S.-led NATO forces are battling a Taliban insurgency.

Some U.S. and Pakistani officials say that both sides are trying to improve ties. As part of this process, a U.S. official said, it is possible that some permanent changes could be made in the drone program which could slow the pace of attacks.

The security source said very few innocent people had been killed in the strikes. When a militant takes shelter in a house or compound which is then bombed, "the ones who are harboring him, they are equally responsible," he said.

"When they stay at a host house, they (the hosts) obviously have sympathies for these guys."

He denied that Pakistan helped target civilians.

"If ... others say innocents have been targeted, it's not true," he said. "We never target civilians or innocents."

The New America Foundation policy institute says that of 283 reported strikes from 2004 to Nov 16, 2011, between 1,717 and 2,680 people were killed. Between 293 and 471 were thought to be civilians -- approximately 17 percent of those killed.

The Brookings Institution, however, says civilian deaths are high, reporting in 2009 that "for every militant killed, 10 or more civilians also died." Pakistan's interior minister, Rehman Malik, also said in April 2011 that "the majority of victims are innocent civilians."

Still, despite its public stance, Pakistan has quietly supported the drone program since Obama ramped up air strikes when he took office in 2009 and even asked for more flights.

According to a U.S. State Department cable published by anti-secrecy organization WikiLeaks, Pakistan's chief of army staff General Ashfaq Kayani in February 2008 asked Admiral William J. Fallon, then-commander of U.S. Central Command, for increased surveillance and round-the-clock drone coverage over North and South Waziristan.

The security source said Pakistan's powerful spy agency, the Directorate of Inter-Services Intelligence, also was supportive of the strikes, albeit privately.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Iranian president targeted by shoe thrower

Iranian President
Iranian President
Tehran, Iran (CNN) -- A 45-year-old textile worker who has been out of work for a year threw his shoes Monday at Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to protest not having received unemployment benefits, an Iranian website reported.

He missed, striking a banner behind the president instead, said Ghased News, an unofficial website. CNN has not been able to confirm the report independently.

Ghased News said the incident occurred in the northern city of Sari during a memorial ceremony for a former oil minister who died last year.

Attendees beat the man until security forces intervened, the site reported. The man had been fired from his job at a weaving factory and said he had not received unemployment benefits for a year, it said.

Ghased News identified the man as Rashid S., a resident of Sari who was once jailed for throwing eggs and tomatoes at former President Mohammad Khatami.

The audience apologized to Ahmadinejad and chanted slogans in his support, Ghased News said.

Ahmadinejad's website,, posted a picture of the president at the event but made no mention of the flying footwear.

Throwing shoes is a sign of profound disrespect in Arab countries, but not in Iran. In December 2008, an Iraqi journalist threw his shoes at President George W. Bush during a news conference in Baghdad. He, too, missed. As he was pushed to the floor, the reporter shouted that his act was a "farewell kiss" to the "dog" who launched the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

The reporter, Muntadhar al-Zaidi, was released after nine months in jail.

Though many Iraqis hold Bush in low esteem, opinions were mixed in Iraq following the incident. Some viewed al-Zaidi as a hero, with thousands taking to the streets calling for his release; others said his act went against Arab traditions of honoring guests.

According to the CIA World Factbook, citing official government figures, Iran's unemployment rate last year was 13.2%. But many Iranians believe the true figure to be much higher.