Monday, May 10, 2010

The war of terror drones on

U.S. Urges Action in Pakistan After Failed Bombing
The American military commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, met with the Pakistani military chief, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, at his headquarters here on Friday and urged Pakistan to move more quickly in beginning a military offensive against the Pakistani Taliban and Al Qaeda in North Waziristan, Americans and Pakistanis familiar with the visit said. The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the delicacy of continuing diplomatic efforts here.

In Pakistan, a jumbled scaffolding of militancy
In this teeming southern metropolis, authorities are focusing on a domestic militant outfit that might have escorted Shahzad to distant northern peaks where U.S. investigators allege he received training with the al-Qaeda affiliated Pakistani Taliban. In Pakistan's heartland, extremist organizations freely build compounds and campaign with politicians, while their foot soldiers fight alongside the Taliban in the borderlands, intelligence officials say.

The overall picture is one of a jumbled scaffolding of militancy that supports al-Qaeda and the Taliban with money and safe houses, and can provide entrance tickets to mountain training camps for aspiring terrorists like Shahzad, one U.S. counterterrorism official said.

No-name terrorists now CIA drone targets
Once upon a time, the CIA had to know a militant's name before putting him up for a robotic targeted killing. Now, if the guy acts like a guerrilla, it's enough to call in a drone strike.

It's another sign of that a once-limited, once-covert program to off senior terrorist leaders has morphed into a full-scale -- if undeclared -- war in Pakistan. And in a war, you don't need to know the name of someone on the other side before you take a shot.

Across the border, in Afghanistan, the rules for launching an airstrike have become tighter than a balled fist. Dropping a bomb from above is now a tactic of last resort; even when U.S. troops are under fire, commanders are reluctant to authorize air strikes.

In Pakistan, however, the opposite has happened. Starting in the latter days of the Bush administration, and accelerating under the Obama presidency, drone pilots have become more and more free to launch their weapons.

"You've had an expanded target set for [some] time now and, given the danger these groups pose and their relative inaccessibility, these kinds of strikes -- precise and effective -- have become almost like the cannon fire of this war. They're no longer extraordinary or even unusual," one American official tells CNN.

This official -- like many other officials -- insists that the drone strikes have torn up the ranks of militants.

"The enemy has lost not just operational leaders and facilitators -- people whose names we know -- but formations of fighters and other terrorists," the official tells the Los Angeles Times. "We might not always have their names, but ... these are people whose actions over time have made it obvious that they are a threat."

National security law experts, inside the government and out, are in the middle of an intense debate over whether the remotely piloted attacks are legal. One leading law professor told Congress last week that the drone operators could be tried for "war crimes," under certain circumstances.

25 killed in U.S. drone attack in Pakistan
Twenty-five people, including 21 militants, were killed in Pakistan's northwest where a U.S. drone targeted insurgent hideouts and the military stepped up ground attacks on militants in the region today.

Ten people, including six militants, were killed and several others injured in a U.S. drone strike in the restive North Waziristan tribal region in northwest Pakistan.

Unmanned spy planes fired at least two missiles at a suspected militant hideout in Inzarkas village, located 50 km west of Miran Shah, the main town in North Waziristan Agency.

“Local residents pulled 10 bodies from the rubble and some more people are said to be injured,” a source said. Sources said six of those killed were militants, while the rest were civilians.

The strike occurred in the vicinity of Datta Khel, considered a haven for Taliban and Al Qaida elements.

Datta Khel, located near the border with Afghanistan, is the hometown of militant commander Hafiz Gul Bahadur



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