A C.I.A. drone strike on Thursday killed a high-level commander in the Haqqani network, the militant group that has been the largest killer of American troops in Afghanistan, American officials said.
The officials said they had confirmed the death of Janbaz Zadran, who
has often been described as the third-ranking leader of the Haqqani
network, near Miram Shah in North Waziristan, part of Pakistan’s tribal area.
“His death in Miram Shah makes him the most senior Haqqani leader in
Pakistan to be taken off the battlefield,” said an American official,
who spoke on the condition of anonymity about the nominally secret drone
Two missiles hit a house and a vehicle, killing Mr. Zadran and three
other people, according to Pakistani officials and local news reports. A
second drone strike in South Waziristan killed three people, the
Mr. Zadran, also known as Jamil, was an important link between Haqqani
fighters in Afghanistan, who are allied with the Taliban, and the
network’s hub in Miram Shah, where it has established a sort of
ministate that includes tax collectors, courts and schools to train
Islamic fighters. He was the chief organizer of the supply chain across
the border for weapons and other goods, according to experts on the
Mr. Zadran served as a top aide to Sirajuddin Haqqani, the network’s
operational commander and the son of the group’s patriarch, Jalaluddin
Haqqani. In the 1980s, the elder Mr. Haqqani was part of a coalition of
Islamist militias, backed by the C.I.A., that fought the Soviet Army in
Afghanistan; in recent years, however, his group has become a major target for the agency’s campaign of strikes using missiles fired from drones.
A study last year by the New America Foundation,
a Washington research group, said that Mr. Zadran was in charge of
Haqqani network finances as well as weapons acquisition. While not an
experienced military leader, he came from the Haqqanis’ home village of
Srani in Paktia Province in Afghanistan and was among their most trusted
deputies, the study said.
Brian Fishman, a counterterrorism expert and one of the authors of the
New America paper, said that while the drone strikes in Pakistan had
been quite effective against Al Qaeda, whose leaders are mainly
non-Pakistanis, they may be less devastating for a group like the
“The Haqqanis have deep local roots, so they just have a deeper bench,” Mr. Fishman said.
The Haqqani network has been at the heart of recent tension between the
United States and Pakistan. The former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of
Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen, described the network last month as a
“veritable arm” of the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence agency, or
ISI, a remark that other American officials later toned down.
On Thursday, an ISI official said he had no knowledge of the latest
drone strikes. “Americans are choosing their own targets and are in a
better position to tell who their targets are,” the official said.
Thursday’s strikes occurred as Marc Grossman, the United States special
representative for Pakistan and Afghanistan, met in Islamabad, the
Pakistani capital, with President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister
Yousaf Raza Gilani and Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, the army chief.
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