Pakistan Security Brief
Pakistan Security Brief – October 6, 2010
British citizen killed in drone strike was selected to lead al-Qaeda splinter group in England; TTP destroys dozens of NATO tankers in Quetta; White House assessment criticizes Pakistan’s unwillingness to go after militants in tribal areas; Pakistani and ISAF officials struggle to negotiate wording of cross border incident report.
FATA and the Europe Plot
On Tuesday, intelligence officials revealed that a British citizen who was killed in a drone strike in North Waziristan last month had been selected to head a new al-Qaeda splinter group in England. Abdul Jabbar had been chosen during meeting of 300 Taliban and al-Qaeda leaders to establish a Britain-based terror group called the Islamic Army of Great Britain that would coordinate Mumbai-style attacks against high profile targets in Europe. On Wednesday, a Pakistani intelligence official also disclosed that there is evidence that Jabbar had ties with Faisal Shahzad but said that “the nature of the ties are not clear.” The emerging reports of Jabbar’s plans led the French government to issue an announcement on Wednesday warning that it was now “highly likely” that public transportation and tourist locations in Britain would be struck by a terrorist attack in the near future.
Two missiles fired by a suspected U.S. drone struck a house in the town of Mir Ali in North Waziristan on Wednesay, killing at least six militants. Intelligence officials indicated that at least three of the slain militants belonged to the Haqqani network. Separately, security officials have said that the German nationals killed in a U.S. drone strike on Monday were in “close contact” with Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) commander Hakimullah Mehsud. Regarding the surge of drone attacks in the FATA during the past month, Pakistan’s ambassador to the U.S., Hussein Haqqani, told reporters on Wednesday that increased drone strikes in North Waziristan are directly linked to the recently uncovered terror plot in Europe.
- More than two dozen NATO tankers were set ablaze on Wednesday after militants opened fire on a terminal in Quetta, the fourth such attack targeting NATO supply vehicles in the past week. One employee working at the terminal was also reportedly killed during the attack. TTP spokesman Azam Tariq phoned reporters to claim responsibility for the attack as part of the TTP’s continuing campaign against NATO supply trucks, adding that the TTP “will further intensify attacks with the intensification of U.S. drone strikes.”
- According to a new White House assessment, Pakistan has been unwilling to actively pursue al-Qaeda and Afghan Taliban militants operating in the FATA. A U.S. official who read the report said that the assessment concludes that “the Pakistani military continued to avoid military engagements that would put it in direct conflict with Afghan Taliban or al-Qaeda forces in North Waziristan.” The report also noted that Pakistan’s reluctance to go after these elements is “as much a political choice as it is a reflection of an under-resourced military prioritizing its targets.”
Cross Border Incident
Officials are having difficulty negotiating the wording of a final report to be issued by a joint investigation into last week’s incident in which three Pakistani soldiers were killed by NATO gunships in Kurram Agency. Sources from both the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and the Pakistani military confirmed that the probe was complete and that both sides agreed that the ISAF had violated Pakistani airspace. However, the release of the investigation’s findings have been delayed because the Pakistani military wants the ISAF to accept responsibility for the incident while ISAF wishes the report to reflect that its forces acted in self-defense and had retaliated after coming under fire.
Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said on Tuesday that the U.S. military is “making progress” on convincing the Pakistani government to reopen the Torkham border crossing. However, Morrell also said that the border closing has “not in any way impacted our ability to resupply fuel to our operations around Afghanistan” since the U.S. still has access to separate routes in southern Pakistan as well as other means of transporting supplies into northern Afghanistan.
- Former president Pervez Musharraf admitted in a recent magazine interview that during his rule Pakistani military forces trained militant groups to fight in Indian-administered Kashmir in order to pressure India to enter talks. Musharraf defended his government’s actions, saying that “it is the right of any country to promote its own interests when India is not prepared to discuss Kashmir at the United Nations and resolve the dispute in a peaceful manner.
On Tuesday, an official from the office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) warned that the stability of Pakistan is at stake and that the situation remains “critically difficult” as relief supplies for millions of the country’s flood victims are still coming up short. UNHCR representative Mengesha Kebede said that his organization has received only half the amount of funding for its shelter relief needs, calling the situation “unacceptable” and stressing the need to “draw the international community’s attention that the emergency in Pakistan is not over.”
The U.S. military has recalled its C-17 and C-130 cargo aircraft from flood relief operations in Pakistan now that more aid delivery has become possible via ground transportation. Despite the withdrawal, the U.S. military will continue to provide helicopter support from several bases throughout Pakistan and Vice Admiral Mike LeFever said that the U.S. remains “ready to support any further requests from the government of Pakistan if needed again at some future time.”
- A bomb detonated inside a home in the Azmat Khel area of Bannu district on Wednesday, killing one person and wounding two others. Local authorities have said that an investigation into the attack is currently underway.
- Maulana Muhammad Amin, a radical cleric associated with the Jamia Binoria Almia mosque and a former president of the banned militant group Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan, was gunned down in a “target killing” incident in Karachi on Tuesday. Four gunmen riding motorcycles opened fire on Amin’s vehicle as he was traveling from Ittehad Town, killing Amin and critically wounding a female passenger.