Internet Anthropologist Think Tank: Taliban Year in review. Fail.

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    Saturday, January 02, 2010

    Taliban Year in review. Fail.

    US leaflet used in Afghanistan.Image via Wikipedia

    Taliban Year in review. Fail.

    High Value Targets killed
    Since January 2008, the US strikes in Pakistan have killed 13 senior al Qaeda leaders and one senior Taliban leader. Eight were killed in 2008 (Abdullah Azzam al Saudi, Abu Zubair al Masri, Abu Jihad al Masri, Khalid Habib, Abu Haris, Abu Khabab al Masri, Abu Sulayman Jazairi, and Abu Laith al Libi); and six were killed in 2009 (Ilyas Kashmiri, Najmuddin Jalolov, Mustafa al Jaziri, Baitullah Mehsud, Osama al Kini, and Sheikh Ahmed Salim Swedan). In addition, 16 mid-level al Qaeda and Taliban commanders and operatives have been killed since January 2008. [ see list of al Qaeda and Taliban leaders killed since 2004, below ]
    Interestingly enough, just over 27 percent of the HVTs have been killed in strikes in territories controlled by Mullah Nazir. The Pakistani government and the military have held up Nazir as a "pro-government Taliban leader" after he feuded with Uzbek fighters from the Islamic Jihad Union. But Nazir has repeatedly professed his loyalty to Osama bin Laden and Mullah Omar. [see chart 7, "Number of HVTs killed in territories of various Taliban factions"]
    The data also presents some interesting results on number of strikes versus number of HVTs killed. Some leaders' territories have only hit only a handful of times, but those select strikes have clearly and effectively targeted HVTs. For example, even though there have only been eight strikes in Abu Kasha al Iraqi's territory (9 percent of all strikes), five HVTs have been killed there (15 percent of total). The same goes for Bajaur's Faqir Mohammad: two HVTs have been killed during the three strikes in his territories.

    Civilian casualties are low
    Despite the sharp increase in both the frequency and total number of casualties resulting from Predator strikes since mid-2008, civilian casualties have remained very low. Naturally, it is difficult to determine the exact number of civilians killed in Predator strikes for many reasons - including intentional exaggeration by Taliban spokesmen, and vague accounts by Pakistani media sources which frequently report that a certain number of "people" were killed in a strike, but rarely offer a follow-up report identifying which victims were civilians and which were militants. However, it is possible to get a rough estimate of civilian casualties by adding up the number of civilians reported killed from the media accounts of each attack. According to this method, a total of 94 civilians were reported killed as a result of all strikes between 2006 and September 29, 2009. [see chart 4, "Casualties from Predator strikes inside Pakistan: Civilian vs. Taliban/Al Qaeda"]


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