Pakistan Security Brief - December 8-14, 2009
Pakistan Security Brief – December 8-14, 2009
A TTP gun and bomb attack on an ISI building in Multan kills several; TTP chief Hakimullah says his men will retaliate in January; Pakistani authorities detain five U.S. students in Pakistan for attempting to join radical militant groups; U.S. drone strike in North Waziristan kills important Al Qaeda leader, Prime Minister Gilani hints at expansion of operations in the FATA; Militants and security forces clash in Khyber agency, key TTP Swat leader arrested in Karachi; Al Qaeda video claims U.S. and Pakistani governments, not Al Qaeda, behind recent bombings in Pakistan.
A gun and bomb attack in the Pakistani city of Multan killed around a dozen people on December 8. The assault is yet another in a series of sophisticated attacks on security apparatus as the target of the assault appeared to be a local office of Pakistan’s ISI spy agency. Pakistani Taliban spokesman Azam Tariq took responsibility for the attack.
In a telephonic interview with CNN on December 8, Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) leader Hakimullah Mehsud claimed that his fighters had not “lost morale” and that they were waiting for the January snowfall before launching their counterattack against the Pakistani military in South Waziristan agency. Hakimullah claimed his men to be “stronger in the snowing season.”
On December 9 Pakistani authorities detained five men who had travelled to Pakistan from the U.S. in an attempt to contact terrorist organizations. The five men, two of Pakistani origin, two of Somali origin and one of Egyptian origin, were students in the U.S. and had originally been reported missing by their parents after one set of parents discovered a disturbing “farewell” video where the men appeared intent upon contacting conducting “jihad.” They were arrested in the Punjabi city of Sargodha and investigators believe the men had made contact with two Pakistani militant Islamist organizations but neither group was interested in their services. The detainees allegedly later admitted to authorities their plans of carrying out “jihad.” The Pakistani government has said that it will not extradite the young men to the U.S. until it has completed its own criminal proceedings against them.
A U.S. drone strike in the town of Shpalga close to the North Waziristani town of Miramshah reportedly killed a senior Al Qaeda figure. Saleh Al Somali, the head of Al Qaeda’s external operations, was reportedly killed in the attack. Another drone strike allegedly took place on December 10 in the Ladha region of South Waziristan reportedly killing a number of enemy militants, however the Pakistani military denies any such strike took place. In other drone news, private military contractor Xe, formerly known as Blackwater, has had its contract to provide logistical support to the CIA’s secret drone program in Pakistan canceled. CIA director Panetta has reportedly ordered that the services provided by Xe be passed back over to CIA employees.
On Saturday, December 12, after initially suggesting that the Pakistani military’s South Waziristan operation was nearing its completion, Pakistani Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani retracted his statement and said the operation was still ongoing and that there was no fixed date for its conclusion. At the same time he alluded to the possibility of the Pakistani military expanding its operation into Orakzai agency where many TTP fighters are believed to have fled from South Waziristan.
On Monday TTP fighters blew up a school in Khyber agency. The demolition did not cause any casualties. The attack comes at the same time as two soldiers and seven militants were killed in clashes elsewhere in the agency. In other news, Pakistani authorities claim to have arrested a key member of the TTP Swat in Karachi on Monday.
In a rare rebuke, a video from an American member of Al Qaeda has condemned indiscriminate bombings and attacks that target Muslim civilians, referring to the recent spate of such attacks in Pakistan. Qaeda member Adam Gadhan blamed the U.S. and Pakistani governments of framing Al Qaeda.
Khalid Tanveer, “Police: Attack on Pakistan intel office kills 12,” AP, December 8, 2009. Available at http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20091208/ap_on_re_as/as_pakistan
“Nine dead as attack targets Pakistan spy agency,” AFP, December 8, 2009. Available at http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20091208/wl_sthasia_afp/pakistanunrest
“US militant suspects to stay in Pakistan, court rules,” BBC, December 14, 2009. Available at http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/8412119.stm
“Pakistan: Detained Americans Admit Jihad Plan,” AP, December 14, 2009. Available at http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,579888,00.html
“Key Taliban commander arrested in Karachi,” The News, December 14, 2009. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/updates.asp?id=93528