Pakistan Security Brief
Pakistan Security Brief: December 21, 2010
U.S. military commanders reportedly seeking authority to launch Special Forces raids into Pakistan; U.S. drone campaign expands northward to target militants; Senior al Qaeda operatives captured in Karachi; Pakistan successfully test fires Ghauri Hatf 5 ballistic missile.
Special Forces Raids
Senior U.S. military commanders in Afghanistan are reportedly “pushing hard” for an expanded military campaign that would permit Special Operations Forces raids across the Afghan border into Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). The New York Times reports that military commanders are pressing administration officials to authorize these raids out of a growing frustration with the Pakistani military’s failure to “root-out militants” in FATA, with North Waziristan mentioned in particular. The unnamed U.S. commanders indentified in the article told the Times that these Special Operations Forces raids into Pakistan would be “ground operations to capture or kill leaders from the Taliban and the Haqqani network” and that if authorized they would likely create “intelligence windfalls.” It has also been revealed by the New York Times that Counterterrorism Pursuit Teams, comprised of elite Afghan soldiers, have in recent weeks carried out offensive operations against militant targets inside Pakistani territory. Though the existence of these Counterterrorism Pursuit Teams has been known for some time, their previous missions were thought to be limited to intelligence-gathering operations. Almost immediately, NATO officials in Kabul denied the validity of the New York Times report, stating that there is “absolutely no truth” to allegations that the U.S. military is planning Special Forces raids into Pakistani territory. 
In Washington, Husain Haqqani, Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United States, strongly criticized reports that the U.S. was planning raids into Pakistan. The Ambassador told reporters that, “Pakistani forces are capable of handling the militant threat within our borders and no foreign forces are allowed or required to operate inside our sovereign territory.” Haqqani reiterated Pakistan’s commitment to fighting terrorist elements inside its borders while at the same time defending his country’s sovereignty, “We work with our allies, especially the US, and appreciate their material support but we will not accept foreign troops on our soil — a position that is well known.”
The United States is expanding its drone campaign northward to target militants who have fled from Waziristan, according to a senior Pakistani military official interviewed by CNN. The source told CNN that many militants have fled the U.S. drone campaign in North and South Waziristan and have regrouped in the Tirah Valley in Khyber tribal agency. Last week, as many as 65 militants were killed in a 24-hour period when U.S. drones targeted their suspected hideouts in the Tirah Valley. In addition to commenting on the U.S. drone campaign, the unnamed senior Pakistani military official also discussed the military’s plans to carry out an offensive in North Waziristan. The Pakistani official told CNN that the military was planning to mount an offensive into North Waziristan and that a six-month time frame “is about right.”
According to a report in the Daily Times, The deputy to al Qaeda’s number two Ayman al-Zawahiri and an operational commander for al Qeada, Umar Misri and Muhammad Muhammad respectively, were arrested last month in Karachi. According to reports, the two al Qaeda operatives were captured in a joint U.S.-Pakistani raid that targeted the Sohrab Goth area of Karachi. Pakistani security officials told reporters with the Daily Times that the suspects are currently being held in Islamabad where they are being interrogated by security forces. The Daily Times also reports that an American al Qaeda member, Adam Gadanhn (Abu Azzam al Amriki) was also captured in last month’s raid. Officials have allegedly kept the arrest of the American al Qaeda operative secret while he is being interrogated in Islamabad by “a joint investigation team of both Pakistanis and Americans.”
On Monday, Pakistan’s Army Strategic Forces Command test fired a medium-range ballistic missile capable of carrying a nuclear payload. The Pakistani Military released a statement confirming the successful launch of the Ghauri Hatf 5, which has a range of 800 miles (1,300 kilometers) and is capable of carrying conventional or nuclear payloads. Senior military personnel and political figures, including Pakistani Prime Minister Yousef Gilani, were on hand to witness the missile test. After the successful launch, Prime Minister Gilani thanked Pakistani scientists for their hard work and affirmed that today’s launch, “sends the right signals internationally that Pakistan’s defense capability is impregnable and should never be challenged."