Pakistan Security Brief
Pakistan Security Brief – March 29, 2010
Militants and security forces clash in Orakzai Agency as civilians flee; Pakistan targets militant hideouts; drone strike in NWA kills four; six militants and one soldier killed in SWA clash; six truck drivers killed for supplying Shi’a community; six LeI militants arrested in Khyber; Pakistan a “strategic priority" according to Clinton; Pakistan to buy F-16s from U.S.; Qureshi reports progress on receiving drone technology; State Dept. adviser presents legal defense for drone strikes; Qari Zafar is alive; TTP planning to abduct U.S. and Afghan diplomats; LeT thought to be expanding operations; Baloch Republican Army commander arrested; talks between Indian and Pakistani security forces begin; bomb attacks kill six in Pakistan; Chicago cab driver linked to al Qaeda arrested; NATO oil tanker destroyed; NATO truck and goods stolen.
- Between 14 and 22 militants were killed on Sunday as the result of clashes with security forces. Militants attacked a base of Pakistani security forces in Orakzai Agency. Security forces later targeted militant hideouts with gunship helicopters in the Chapri Ferozkhel area. More than 100 suspected militants have been killed in the last week. Large numbers of civilians are fleeing the region. One report claimed as many as 15,000 families have arrived in neighboring Khyber Agency.
- On Saturday militants staged simultaneous attacks on Pakistani military positions in Orakizai Agency and briefly occupied a security checkpoint before security forces managed to fight them off. 39 militants and five security officials were reported to have been killed in the clashes. Pakistani gunship helicopters targeted eight hideouts and three vehicles used by militants in Orakzai Agency on Saturday killing thirteen militants and wounding eighteen more.
- Four people were killed and five others injured in a US drone strike in North Waziristan on Saturday. The US drone reportedly fired two missiles, one of which struck a house in the village of Hurmaz near the town of Mir Ali in the territory controlled by Hafiz Gul Bahadur’s Taliban group.
- Six militants were killed in South Waziristan as the result of a clash with security forces. One soldier also died during the clash.
- On Saturday, the bodies of six truck drivers who had been kidnapped a few days earlier were discovered in Thal district, apparently having been shot to death. Police found a note in the pocket of one of the victims which warned that anyone who provided supplies to the Shi’a community in Kurram Agency’s main town of Parachinar would be “treated like this.”
- Six militants belonging to Lashkar-e-Islam were arrested by security forces conducting a search operation in Bara Tehsil, Khyber Agency on Friday. Lashkey-e-Islam is led by Mangal Bagh.
- In a statement before the Senate Appropriations committee on Sunday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that Pakistan is a “strategic priority” for the US. This comes before hearings begin on Thursday over the White House’s requests for $33 billion in new war funding and $4.1 billion in foreign assistance, a large portion of which is for Afghanistan and Pakistan.
- Pakistan is in talks with the US to buy fourteen additional F-16s from the US, officials reported on Sunday. The US and Pakistan have to fast-track Pakistani requests for military equipment.
- Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said on Sunday that “significant progress” regarding the acquisition of drone technology had been made in recent meetings with US military and political leadership.
- US State Department legal adviser Harold Koh laid out a legal argument defending CIA drone strikes in Pakistan in a speech on Thursday citing “self-defense” under international law. In his speech Koh did not refer to Pakistan specifically but rather spoke of “targeting” al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters.
- Qari Zafar, Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan commander and Acting Ameer of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, is now thought to be alive and planning attacks in Punjab. He was believed to have been killed in a drone strike in North Waziristan on February 24, however new Pakistani intelligence indicates that Qari Zafar is alive and operating under the codename Imam Rabbani.
- According to recent intelligence reports TTP is planning to abduct US and Afghan diplomats and exchange their release for the release of arrested militants.
- The US military believes that Lashkar-e-Taiba is expanding its operations to other South Asian countries outside of India. LeT was responsible for the 2008 Mumbai attacks.
- Haji Murad Khan Murri, commander of the banned Baloch Republican Army and alleged mastermind of a 2007 attack that resulted in the death of three to six Chinese engineers, was arrested on Friday.
- Bi-annual talks between the Pakistani Rangers and the Indian Border Security Force (BSF) began in Amritsar on Sunday. The meeting comes a day after the BSF reported killing a total of nine militants in a series of gun battles in Kashmir on Saturday. Security officials said that five of the militants were attempting to cross the border from the Pakistani side in the mountainous area of Keran.
- Five people were injured on Sunday in a bomb attack that destroyed a music shop in the Hayatabad neighborhood of Peshawar city. No claim of responsibility has yet been made. On Monday a suicide bomb attack at a meeting of anti-Taliban volunteers in Tank city killed one person and seriously wounded two others. 
Al Qaeda Connection
- On Friday Raja Lahrasib Khan, a Pakistan-born Chicago taxi driver, was arrested on two charges of providing material support to terrorists. He allegedly attempted to funnel money to al-Qaeda and discussed attacking a US stadium.
NATO Supply Chain
- A NATO tanker carrying oil for forces in Afghanistan was destroyed in a remote control bomb blast on Saturday. Three people were injured.
- Looters disguised as customs personnel hijacked a truck carrying goods to NATO forces in Afghanistan on Sunday. The looters made off with the goods and three crewmembers, who were later released.