February 19th, 2010
08:42 AM ET

Haqqani network commander killed in drone strike

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (CNN) - A suspected U.S. drone strike in Pakistan's tribal region killed the son of a notorious al Qaeda-linked militant group leader, sources told CNN on Friday.

The pilotless aircraft fired two missiles at a militant compound in North Waziristan Thursday night and killed four people. One of them was Muhammad Haqqani, son of Jalaluddin Haqqani - whose militant network, known as the Haqqani network - is accused of targeting U.S. and international forces across the Afghan border from its base in Pakistan's rugged tribal region. 

U.S. intelligence officials have said they consider the Haqqani network - closely allied to the Taliban - one of the greatest threats to U.S. forces in Afghanistan. Muhammad Haqqani was a commander in the operation, according to the sources, who asked not to be identified because they are not authorized to speak to the media.

It is the latest drone attack on militants - all believed to be carried out by the United States, even though the U.S. military routinely offers no comment on reported attacks.  Earlier this month, a drone strike targeted another son of Jalaluddin Haqqani, Sirajuddin Haqqani – also a commander.

Drone strikes have escalated in Pakistan after a suicide bomber killed seven CIA officers in eastern Afghanistan in late December.

Arrests of Afghan Taliban leaders in Pakistan were made recently, including the seizures of Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the military leader of the Afghan Taliban, and two Afghan Taliban shadow governors.

The leader of the Pakistani Taliban, Hakimullah Mehsud, died recently after reports that a suspected U.S. drone strike targeted him in January, according to Taliban and Pakistani intelligence sources. The previous leader of the Pakistani Taliban, Baitullah Mehsud, also died in a suspected U.S. drone strike.

Journalist Nasir Dawar contributed to this report.

Filed under: Drone strikes • Haqqani • Pakistan • Taliban
soundoff (7 Responses)
  1. Joe

    Very true. The use of UAVs (drones) is totally merited under the circumstances we are fighting the enemy in. These guys are often in one place for no more than a few hours a time. Drones can act on tips from local intelligence much faster than troops can, Also, they are virtually invisible to the enemy and can deliver precision guided munitions reducing collateral damage. They carry the risk of no U.S. casualties whether the operation is successful or not. Drones are saving American lives and the lives of Afghan/Pakistani civilians by removing the need to engage them with more lethal means and thus killing more civilians. Finally, it must be assumed that anyone travelling with these high level Al Qaeda or Taliban leaders must be enemy operatives and therefore should not automatically be deemed "innocent bystanders." If U.S. troops burst through the door attempting to apprehend the target, do you not think every one of them would pick up a weapon and spring to his defense?

    February 22, 2010 at 12:06 am | Report abuse |
  2. Paul Percy

    Dan Nelson, couldn't agree with you more, kudos. The fact of the matter is that the so called "drones" and their operators are killing those who endanger Americans and our way of life and protect those who cannot fight for themselves. For all you know Daniel, the hundreds of terrorist killed by these "godless weapons" could have saved your life in not hundreds or thousands of American lives. These "godless weapons" are saving lives of those fighting for our country and actively hunting those who want to kill every American they can get their hands on.

    February 21, 2010 at 12:27 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Dan Nelson Lafayette,IN

    So Daniel to use drones to kill the enemy which hides behind civilians and straps on explosives to their bodies should not be hunted down like the animals which they are?

    February 21, 2010 at 9:00 am | Report abuse |
  4. Daniel

    The news I heard about this made me sick,but I guess the news media had a great field day.The use of these godless weapons is no more no less legalized homicide and the people operating them should be tryed as the war criminals they are but unfortunately,they won't.This only goes to show that the war crimes tribunal The Hague,The Netherlands is the most grandiose farce ever perpetrated in the annals of mankind.

    February 21, 2010 at 3:46 am | Report abuse |
  5. A. Smith, Oregon

    The Haqqani network was supposedly fingered as responsible for the massive suicide bomb attack on the CIA base in Afghanistan. This attack is likely a revenge on the Haqqani family as a result. Although no one could place the son as a Taliban fighter, they could put forth the claim that Taliban fighters were staying at his home to justify the attack.

    February 20, 2010 at 3:20 am | Report abuse |
  6. Dan Nelson Lafayette,IN

    It's great to hear that the drones are finally hitting high profile terrorists. It's also good that Obama has used the drones more often than Bush. Pick it up even more Obama and use them wherever we find any terrorists or Taliban! Let God have his judgment on these radical religious fanatics!

    February 20, 2010 at 1:21 am | Report abuse |