Pakistan Security Brief - May 2, 2011

Osama bin Laden killed in Abbotabad; Breakthrough in manhunt after discovery of courier’s name; Pakistan officials deny knowledge of operation or of bin Laden “living in their midst;” Zardari holds emergency talked with Gilani following confirmation of death; Wall Street Journal: Bin Laden death will have dramatic effect on U.S.-Pakistani relations; Al Qaeda militant arrested in Germany; Haqqani network warns Taliban against ‘sabotaging’ Kurram peace deal; Two killed in Kurram explosion while eight others kidnapped; Twenty-one militants killed in Mohmand, Three militants killed in clash in Darra Adam Khel; LI and Zakha Khel clashes continue; Militants killed in Miram Shah fighting; Return of SWA IDPs commences; New York Times: Petraeus appointment will put strain on relationship; Haqqani declares trilateral talks to begin in May; New York Times: Kerry-Lugar aid plan floundering; NATO tanker blown up in Peshawar; Four policemen killed in Punjab; Mob threatens to attack church in Gujranwala; Thirteen vehicles set on fire in Karachi protest.

 

Osama bin Laden Killed in Abbottabad

 
  • On Sunday,  the mastermind behind the 9/11 attacks, Osama bin Laden, was killed in a firefight in a house in Abbottabad, thirty miles north of Islamabad. In the operation conducted by a Navy SEAL team under the authority of the CIA, bin Laden was killed along with one of his sons, two couriers, and a woman who had been used as a human shield by a man in the residence. The $1 million compound that bin Laden was residing in was built in 2005 on the outskirts of the city, and was protected by twelve to eighteen foot walls and security gates. The residence did not possess an Internet or telephone connection, unusual for a large home in the area. Bin Laden was buried within twenty-four hours, in accordance with Islamic tradition. His body was buried at sea in order to keep his burial place from becoming a shrine.[i]
  • According to Obama administration officials, the breakthrough in one of history’s most extensive manhunts came when intelligence officials discovered the name of bin Laden’s trusted courier, who he allegedly utilized to maintain links to the outside world. Detainees at Guantanamo Bay prison had provided the courier’s pseudonym to U.S. interrogators and “said that the man was a protégé of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the confessed mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks.”  Though U.S. officials had “learned the courier’s real name four years ago…it took another two years for them to learn the general region where he operated.” In August, they tracked him to the compound in Abbottabad. Following months of intelligence work, in March the Obama administration held the first of five national security meetings to go over plans for the operation. President Obama authorized the raid on Friday, but allegedly decided to forego sharing the intelligence with any other countries, including Pakistan. Hussain Haqqani, Pakistan’s ambassador to the U.S., said that the Pakistani government “had no knowledge that bin Laden was, essentially, living in their midst.” While the Washington Post citesPakistani intelligence officials who claimed that bin Laden was killed in a CIA-ISI “joint operation,” Pakistan's military said Monday afternoon that it hadn't been forewarned. A statement released by the Pakistani foreign ministry said that the operation was carried out “in accordance with declared U.S. policy that Osama bin Laden will be eliminated in a direct action by the U.S. forces, wherever found in the world.” The Washington Post reports that President Zardari learned of bin Laden’s death in a phone call from President Obama. On Monday, Zardari held “emergency talks” with Prime Minister Gilani following the U.S. confirmation of bin Laden’s death. [ii]
  • The Wall Street Journal reports that bin Laden’s death is likely to have a dramatic impact on U.S.-Pakistani relations. Talat Masood, a former Pakistani army general, stated that "It's a huge setback for al Qaeda forces in psychological and military terms. They'd built a myth surrounding him. He's a leader who is supposed to be irreplaceable. It would have a good impact on Pakistan-U.S. relations." However, a Taliban commander in Afghanistan declared "Taliban fighters have an admiration for Osama. It will affect their morale and will trigger the violence. Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters will start an offensive for revenge, and it will be a bloody offensive."[iii]
 
 

Al-Qaeda Militant Arrested in Germany

  • On Friday, German police arrested three suspected al-Qaeda operatives who had been preparing for an attack in the country. Abdelakim El-K, the group’s apparent leader, allegedly received training in an Islamist camp in the Waziristan region.  He also is believed to have “been in frequent online communication with a senior al-Qaeda operative in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region in the lead-up to his arrest.” The men were arrested on a tip received from U.S. authorities from Islamic militant Ahmed Wali Siddiqui, who had been detained for nine months in Afghanistan. CNN additionally reports that “according to German authorities, more than 200 Germans have traveled to training camps in Pakistan in recent years.” German intelligence officials told the media outlet that more than forty German militants are still believed to be training in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region.[iv]
 
 

FATA

  • The Express Tribune reports that the Haqqani network “has warned the homegrown Pakistani Taliban against ‘sabotaging’ a fragile peace deal that it helped broker between the Sunnis and Shias in Kurram Agency.” Members of both the Haqqani network and the Hakimullah Mehsud-led Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) have spoken of rising tensions between their groups since the signing of the peace accord. The warning by Haqqani follows multiple attacks by TTP militants on local Shia tribesmen, violating the peace agreement. The media outlet reports that a TTP commander from Kurram, Fazal Saeed, is “now planning attacks on Shias after initially announcing support towards the deal.”[v]
  • Two people were killed and six others were wounded in an explosion in Kurram Agency on Saturday. A vehicle traveling from central to lower Kurram was struck by a landmine, resulting in the casualties. In a separate incident, eight people were abducted in central Kurram along with their three vehicles. The tribesmen were travelling from Parachinar before they were kidnapped in the Tindo area of Kurram. [vi]
  • Twenty-one militants were killed in clashes with military forces in Mohmand Agency on Sunday. One security officer was also killed in the fighting, and five others wounded. Following the attack by military helicopters, clashes continued in the Soran Darra area.[vii]
  • Three militants were killed in Darra Adam Khel on Saturday in a clash with security personnel. A checkpoint in the Tora Chinna area came under attack on Friday night, with security forces targeting the assailants with retaliatory fire.[viii]
  • Three members of the Zakha Khel tribe were killed while another Lashkar-e-Islam militant sustained causalities in a clash between the two groups in Khyber Agency on Friday. LI militants assaulted members of the Zakha Khel tribe in the Bazaar valley, capturing a hilltop in the area. [ix]
  • Three militants were killed in a clash between two groups in the Miram Shah area of North Waziristan on Friday. Militants loyal to Taliban commander Tariq Afridi attacked members of a rival group led by Momin Afridi in a Miram Shah bazaar, killing three of the insurgents. The News reports that Tariq Afridi “[accused] Momin Afridi and his men of being pro-government and has carried several attacks on them including a devastating suicide attack in a mosque at [Darra Adam Khel].[x]
  • On Saturday, the FATA Disaster Management Authority commenced the return of internally displaced persons (IDPs) from refugee camps in Dera Ismail Khan and Tank. The families returned to their homes in the Mehsud area of South Waziristan. An assistant political officer told reporters that the return of the families “would continue till May 5 and 732 displaced families were likely to return to their native areas.”[xi]
 
 

U.S.-Pakistani Relations

  • The New York Times reports that the recent appointment of General Davis Petraeus as director of the CIA “puts him more squarely than ever in conflict with Pakistan, whose military leadership does not regard him as a friend and where he will now have direct control over the armed drone campaign that the Pakistani military says it wants stopped.” The media outlet reports that Pakistan’s army chief, General Kayani, has considered Petraeus to be a “political general,” while Petraeus has privately criticized the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency’s support for fighters based in Pakistan who are staging attacks against NATO forces in Afghanistan.[xii]
  • Pakistan’s Ambassador to the U.S., Hussain Haqqani, has dismissed recent claims that Prime Minister Gilani told Afghan President Karzai that the U.S. had failed both Pakistan and Afghanistan and that Karzai should form a long-term partnership with Pakistan and China in order to negotiate a peace deal with the Taliban. He reported that in contradiction to the media assertions, Islamabad, Afghanistan and the U.S. will hold trilateral talks in early May. Meanwhile, U.S. Special Representative for Pakistan and Afghanistan Marc Grossman stated that India will play a significant role in resolving the conflict in Afghanistan.[xiii]
  • The New York Times reports that the U.S. Kerry-Lugar aid plan which promises Pakistan $7.5 billion over five years is “foundering because Washington’s fears of Pakistani corruption and incompetence has slowed disbursal of the money, undermining a fundamental goal of the United States in Pakistan.” According to the Government Accountability Office, only $179.5 million of the first $1.5 billion had been disbursed by December 2010. The media outlet reports that “Energy projects that the Obama administration said would improve electricity for households and energy-starved industries have been placed in out-of-the-way areas, and help for the crumbling education system has not materialized.”[xiv]
 

 

Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa

 

 

NATO Tanker Attack in Punjab

  • Four policemen were killed in an attack by unidentified militants in Pindi Gheb. The assailants set fire to ten oil tankers during the attack, before killing the security officers. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack. Meanwhile, Pakistani police broke up a mob of 300 people who were “threatening to attack a church Saturday after word spread that two copies of the Quran had been burned” in the city of Gujranwala.[xvi]
 

 

Vehicles Torched in Karachi

  • Thirteen vehicles were set on fire in Karachi on Sunday when a “complete shutdown was observed on a call given by the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) for ‘peaceful observance of a mourning day’ over the killing of a senior party member on Saturday.” The party official, Liaquat Qureshi, had been killed on Friday when unidentified militants intercepted his car and shot him. [xvii]
 


[i] Peter Baker, Helene Cooper, and Mark Mazzetti, “Bin Laden is Dead, Obama Says,” New York Times, May 2, 2011. Available at http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/02/world/asia/osama-bin-laden-is-killed.html
[ii] Mark Mazzetti and Helene Cooper, “Detective Work on Courier Led to Breakthrough on Bin Laden,” New York Times, May 2, 2011. Available at
[iii] Tom Wright, Habib Khan Totakjhil, and Maria Abi-Habib, “Operation is Blow to al Qaeda, Taliban.” Wall Street Journal, Available at http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704569404576298020717713798.html
[iv]Al Qaida ordered suspect to carry out attack in Germany,” Dawn, April 30, 2011. Available at
[v] Zia Khan, “Kurram Agency: Haqqani warns Hakimullah not to ‘sabotage’ peace deal,” Express Tribune, May 2, 2011. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/160890/kurram-agency-haqqani-warns-hakimullah-not-to-sabotage-peace-deal/
[vi] “Explosion kills two in Kurram tribal region,” Dawn, April 30, 2011. Available at http://www.dawn.com/2011/04/30/explosion-kills-two-in-kurram-tribal-region.html
[vii] “21 militants killed in Mohmand,” Dawn, May 2, 2011. Available at http://www.dawn.com/2011/05/02/21-militants-killed-in-mohmand.html
[viii] “Three militants killed in Darra,” Dawn, April 30, 2011. Available at http://www.dawn.com/2011/05/01/three-militants-killed-in-darra.html
[ix] “3 Zakhakhels die in fresh clashes with LI,” The News, May 2, 2011. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/TodaysPrintDetail.aspx?ID=44652&Cat=7
[x] “Infighting leaves 3 militants dead,” The News April 30, 2011. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/TodaysPrintDetail.aspx?ID=44348&Cat=7
[xi]IDPs` return to S. Waziristan resumes,” Dawn, April 30, 2011. Available at
[xii] Jane Perlez and Eric Schmitt, “Move to C.I.A. Puts Petraeus in Conflict With Pakistan,” New York Times, April 28, 2011. Available at http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/29/world/29petraeus.html
[xiii] “Af-Pak-US trilateral talks to take place in May: Husain Haqqani,” Dawn, April 30, 2011. Available at
 http://www.dawn.com/2011/04/30/india-to-play-significant-role-in-afghanistan-marc-grossman.html
[xiv] Jane Perlez, “U.S. Aid Plan for Pakistan Is Foundering,” New York Times, May 1, 2011. Available at
[xv] Ali Hazrat Bacha, “Nato tanker blown up in Peshawar,” Dawn, April 30, 2011. Available at http://www.dawn.com/2011/05/01/nato-tanker-blown-up-in-peshawar.html
[xvi]Four policemen killed in attack on Nato tankers,” Dawn, April 31, 2011. Available at
[xvii] S. Raza Hassan, “Thirteen vehicles set on fire amid Karachi shutdown,” Dawn, May 2, 2011. Available at http://www.dawn.com/2011/05/02/karachi-tense-as-mqm-mourns-death-of-former-mpa.html