Thursday, January 31, 2008

Safe House No More; UPDATE: Al Libi Confirmed Dead

Another Predator drone airstrike along the Afghan/Pakistani border hit a "safe house" inside Pakistan where al Qaeda thugs were busy meeting. No one in the Pakistani military or the US is confirming though, which makes sense since if the airstrike was inside Pakistan, because such airstrikes are a touchy subject for all concerned.
Initial reports said 10 people were killed in the attack on Monday on a house in Torkhali village near the town of Mir Ali.

An intelligence official, however, told Reuters on Thursday that based on information gleaned from tribal contacts there were seven Arabs and six Central Asians killed.

He said the attack was believed to have been carried out by a pilotless U.S. Predator aircraft flown across the nearby border with Afghanistan.

"The missile appeared to have been fired by a drone," the intelligence official said.

The Pakistani authorities have not confirmed the attack, and the Pentagon has denied taking any action, but the Defense Department does not speak for the Central Intelligence Agency, which operates Predators that the tribesmen say carried out the attack late on Monday.

Villagers saw two drones flying over the area before the attack. They didn't see the missile being fired but one heard a plane's engine before the explosion.
Among the suspected targets was an underling to al Qaeda's Abu Laith al Libi. That locals were prevented from going to the funerals of those killed, it increases the likelihood that all those killed were foreign jihadis and al Qaeda terrorists.

It's too bad that Libi wasn't at that meeting or Obaidah al Masri, who Pakistani media outlets claim was another target of the raid. In any event, it sounds like it was a blast.

Well, it looks like al Libi might have bought the farm in the raid after all.
A leading al Qaeda member in Afghanistan, Abu Laith al-Libi, has been killed, a website often used by the group and other Islamists said on Thursday.

A banner on the Ekhlaas.Org site said Libi had fallen as a martyr, without giving further details.

The BBC has a similar story up on their website, with no new details.

CNN runs with the same story. No new details.

Bill Roggio has more details and background on who might have been at the compound when the airstrike hit.

One other thing Roggio points out is that we've been overly optimistic before about who was killed in these airstrikes. I think that the Islamist website admission al Libi is dead suggests that we indeed got one of those key al Qaeda terrorists.

Hot Air weighs in and notes that no one is quite sure how highly ranked al Libi was, but he was clearly someone of high importance to both the Taliban and al Qaeda. Good riddance is the bottom line.

Others blogging: Michelle Malkin and Jammie.

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