Afghan Journal

Lifting the veil on conflict, culture and politics

America seeking revenge in Pakistan for CIA raid ?

February 2, 2010
(Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud (L) sits beside a man who is believed to be Humam Khalil Abu-Mulal Al-Balawi, the suicide bomber who killed CIA agents in Afghanistan, in this still image taken from video released January 9, 2010)

(Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud (L) sits beside a man who is believed to be Humam Khalil Abu-Mulal Al-Balawi, the suicide bomber who killed CIA agents in Afghanistan, in this still image taken from video released January 9, 2010)


The United States has carried out the most intensive series of  unmanned  ”Predator” drone attacks inside Pakistan’s tribal areas since the covert war began, following December’s deadly raid on a CIA base just over the border in Afghanistan. Pakistani newspapers citing interior ministry data, say there were 12 missile strikes in January fired by the unmanned Predator and Reaper planes, the highest for any single month. The highest number of attacks in a month stood at six previously, which was in December 2009. There were just  two strikes in January 2009, reflecting the surge in the drone campaign to fight al Qaeda and the Taliban since the Obama administration took over last year.

The strikes began a day after the attack on the CIA base in Khost in eastern Afghanistan in which seven Americans were killed when a Jordanian suicide bomber linked to both al Qaeda and the Pakistani Taliban detonated his explosives inside the base. Since then the drones have been in South and North Waziristan targeting the head of the Pakistani Taliban  (Tehrik-e-Taliban) Hakimullah Mehsud, who according to some reports may have been killed in a Jan.14 strike.

“The consequent increase in US strikes, first in North Waziristan and then South Waziristan, specifically targeting the fugitive TTP chief Hakimullah Mehsud clearly shows that revenge is the major motive for these attacks. The US intelligence sleuths stationed in Afghanistan are convinced the Khost suicide attack was planned in Waziristan with the help of the TTP. Therefore, it is believed Afghanistan-based American drones will continue to hunt the most wanted al-Qaeda and Taliban leaders, especially Hakimullah, with a view to avenge the loss of the seven CIA agents and to raise morale of its forces in Afghanistan,” Pakistan’s The News, which has compiled details of each strike, writes.

The Khost attack  cost the CIA dearly, taking the lives of the most experienced analysts of Al Qaeda whose intelligence helped guide the drone attacks inside Pakistan  since the campaign began in earnest in the summer of 2008. “For the C.I.A., there is certainly an element of wanting to show that they can hit back,” said Bill Roggio, editor of The Long War Journal which tracks the drone campaign in Pakistan, told the New York Times.   The agency, which took its second biggest lost in history in Khost, has responded with a furious burst of strikes.

According to that same Times report, soon after the Khost raid, a senior U.S. intelligence official said there would be a price to pay. “Some very bad people will eventually have  a very bad day,”  he was quoted as saying.

But according to The News an overwhelming number of people killed in the attacks last month were civilians. Others such as Geo TV have said the attacks killed militants. What is interesting is that there are no longer mass protests against these attacks. Is it because people have reconciled to them ? Or is it that Pakistan’s political-security establishment is more favourably inclined to them, now that the United States is targeting the Pakistani Taliban with as much fury ?

In fact, if there is opposition to the U.S. policy of  targeted killings in Pakistan,  it is coming from home. This month, the American Civil Liberties Union  filed a request under the Freedom of Information Act for government documents revealing procedures for approving targets and legal justifications for the killings. It goes back to the original question. Does the United States have the legal authority to fire missile from unmanned aircraft into Pakistan, a friendly country ?

“The American public has a right to know whether the drone program is consistent with international law, and that all efforts are made to minimize the loss of innocent lives,” said Jonathan Manes, a legal fellow with the ACLU National Security Project. “The Obama administration has reportedly expanded the drone program, but it has not explained publicly what the legal basis for the program is, what limitations it recognizes on the use of drones outside active theaters of war and what the civilian casualty toll has been thus far.

The New America Foundation released a report  last year on the impact of the drone campaign and its collateral damage . While arguing that most drone critics overstate civilian casualties, it  still found that one in every three Pakistanis killed by the drones is a civilian, not a combatant.

And if civilian casualties cannot be avoided in a remote area where intelligence can hardly be perfect, then does it really work ?  You could argue that the more the programme succeeds the more it fails.  An increase in attacks only makes more people angrier, not just the militants but also those opposed to a  sustained violation of national sovereignty, as John Arquilla, a professor of defense analysis at the Naval Postgraduate School says here.


Duh,what do you think


I hope that the strikes were not motivated by revenge. This is war and revenge has no legitimate part in it.

We had sufficient reason to strike the leadership of the TTP and Haqqani network before the attack on the CIA base. Indeed, the successful attack on the CIA base (and the increase in attacks – very successful attacks) after the attack on the CIA base are an indication that we failed to act aggresively enough before. Apparently, we had a wealth on targeting information and had been pulling our punches prior to the attack on the CIA base. I can’t imagine that tall of the targeting information suddenly materialized after the CIA management running the strike was wiped-out. It is more likely that after the attack on the CIA base the rules of engagemeent were loosened and targeting process was streamlined (thoug it appears to have slacked-off since).

This is a consistent problem with both the Bush and the Obama administrations. They have failed to prosecute the war with sufficient aggressiveness and seem only to realize after we have been badly bloodied.

Posted by Brian | Report as abusive

When Obama is talking of withdrawal of forces from Afghanistan, this CIA revenge shows the utter banckruptsy of American policy from the days of 9/11.Kill Osama. He is hiding in caves in North wazirstan.Kill hakeemullah who took revenge for killing of baitullah Mehsud. He is also hiding there.What type of policy is this?
Real revenge will be complete elimination of Taliban/Alquaeda from NORTH WAZIRSTAN. But nuke armed Pakistani army will not allow this. So?


There are some costs attached when a strong country invades another country. I mean money and casualties. If the Americans really pissed off because a few of its agents were killed, then send real people to hunt the Taliban. If the Americans send some flying machines to Pakistani airspace to hunt/kill the Taliban/Al-Qaeda, common people like me would think that the Americans do not have enough balls to really engage the Talibans. Why being coward?

Posted by Mutalib | Report as abusive

Who cares for what reason the Americans are increasing drone attacks, it’s killing the bad guys and that’s what matters. Hopefully they can manage a drone strike 7 days a week.

Posted by Josef | Report as abusive

Mutalib – the people that fly those drones are sitting at a desk in Texas. They have their feet up on a comfortable stool and a nice warm latte beside their mouse. They deal death from the skies with impunity – to them killing the taliban is a video game, and the taliban are a joke.

Their mistake is not in being cowardly, it is in bothering to send anyone to Afghanistan at all – if they took the troops home they could kill without ever even taking fire.

The US troops are in Afghanistan because they genuinely want to help the afghans, there is no other reason to be there.

Posted by Angus | Report as abusive

The USA fired 16 to 18 missiles in one Drone Attack today on one village in Pakistan.

That is NOT a precision strike against alleged “terrorists” but outright bombing of a civilian population center.

WAR CRIMES – from the soldier controlling the Drone to Obama and Bush.

Stop Western HYPOCRISY!

Posted by Hypocrites | Report as abusive

For Mutalib and all,
The real cowards are those that allow the Taliban/Al-Qaida scum to live in their country and just sit on the sidelines while the NATO forces, with real courage and heroism, travel thousands of miles away from thier countries to stop the scum before it crosses the oceans of the world. If the “Brave” people of these middle eastern countries would stand up against the scum, the “coward” NATO forces would not be losing there men and women of their combined security forces.

Posted by My2cents | Report as abusive

surge,bribe,run = defeat of America following the defeat of Soviets . surge,bribe,run again means islamist will chase and hunt you down in europe and deep inside US.

Posted by Astro | Report as abusive

Thank GOD for organizations like the ACLU. They are standing up to a belligerent and arrogant superpower that believes that it has the right to bomb, invade and kill everyone it suspects of ‘terrorism’. All this insane desire for revenge does is anger people who get upset and get revenge. The US thinks it can kill people without impunity, all it is doing is killing people who will then avenge those deaths by killing Americans.

It is a vicious cycle and one that and intellligent superpower would avoid- that certainly ain’t the US.

Posted by Akhman | Report as abusive

The curse of the innocent civilians killed by this illegal act will always hunt all those planning and killing to kill the Al-Qaida or Taliban.

So the payback will have to be paid in the future no matter what you call the success or failure ratio of actual kills!!!

Posted by ratee | Report as abusive

What a funny situation, if al-qaeda or lashkar attacks any where in the world all countries whether European or south- Asian declare it a menace for mankind, but when it is time to fight there is only american foot soldier on ground. when Mr president(Barrack Obama) announces withdrawal from afghan, complete media and world strategist says foolish move. let’s be clear those countries who cannot provide either resources or manpower, have no right to say to american’ s how to conduct this war.

Posted by raj | Report as abusive

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