Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Background on Datta Khel, North Waziristan

From the Longwar Journal (September 15, 2010):

The Datta Khel region has been hit hard by the US, especially in the past several weeks. Six out of the last 12 strikes have taken place in Datta Khel. The US has conducted 17 airstrikes in the Datta Khel region this year, or 25 percent of its current total of 67 airstrikes in Pakistan in 2010. Of the 161 strikes in Pakistan since 2004, 22 strikes have taken place in Datta Khel.

The Datta Khel region is a known hub of Taliban, Haqqani Network, and al Qaeda activity. While Bahadar administers the region, the Haqqani Network, al Qaeda, and allied Central Asian jihadi groups are also based in the area. The Lashkar al Zil, or al Qaeda's Shadow Army, is known to have a command center in Datta Khel.

Some top al Qaeda leaders have been targeted and killed in Datta Khel. A strike on Dec. 17, 2009, targeted Sheikh Saeed al Saudi, Osama bin Laden's brother-in-law and a member of al Qaeda's Shura Majlis, or executive council. Al Saudi is thought to have survived the strike, but Abdullah Said al Libi, the commander of the Shadow Army or Lashkar al Zil, and Zuhaib al Zahibi, a general in the Shadow Army, were both killed in the attack.

But the most significant attack in Datta Khel took place on May 21 this year and resulted in the death of Mustafa Abu Yazid, a longtime al Qaeda leader and close confidant of Osama bin Laden and Ayman al Zawahiri.

Yazid served as the leader of al Qaeda in Afghanistan and the wider Khorasan, a region that encompasses portions of Pakistan, Iran, and several Central Asian states. More importantly, Yazid was as al Qaeda's top financier, which put him in charge of the terror group's purse strings. He served on al Qaeda's Shura Majlis, or top decision-making council. Yazid also was closely allied with the Taliban and advocated the program of embedding small al Qaeda teams with Taliban forces in Afghanistan.


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