Islamabad CIA missiles struck the most feared Afghan Taliban faction, narrowly missing its commander and killing his brother in the latest blow to the insurgents, Pakistani intelligence officials said Friday.
The attack against the Haqqani group, which has close ties to al-Qaida, followed the arrest of the Afghan insurgency’s No. 2 figure and the assault on the Taliban’s southern heartland in Afghanistan — all providing an early boost to the Obama administration’s bid to reverse the tide of war.
Siraj Haqqani, the group’s leader, was the apparent target of the attack Thursday on a village in the insurgents’ North Waziristan sanctuary, the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not supposed to release details.
Haqqani was in the village to attend a funeral. Afterward, he told his brother Mohammed to drive his SUV to a hideout. Moments after Mohammed Haqqani climbed aboard two missiles struck the vehicle, killing him and three other militants, Pakistani and Taliban officials said Friday.
Had Siraj Haqqani been killed, it would have been a major blow to one of the most aggressive insurgent groups in Afghanistan. The fact that the U.S. came close suggests the CIA is tightening the noose around the Haqqani organization.
The attack also suggests the Pakistanis may be providing vital intelligence to the U.S., even though Islamabad has resisted pressure to launch ground operations in North Waziristan. The two Haqqanis are sons of Jalaluddin Haqqani, a former U.S. ally in the war against the Soviets in the 1980s who has maintained close ties to the Pakistani military and intelligence for decades.
Washington has been pressing Pakistan to do more to capture militants who use the country to command the insurgency in Afghanistan, away from the threat from U.S. ground forces.