The Taliban’s second-in-command in Pakistan, Wali-ur-Rehman, was killed close to the Afghan border by a U.S. drone strike on Wednesday, May 29, reports the Wall Street Journal.
It had been reported that that Rehman has been based in the South Waziristan province of the country, but officials in Pakistan have said that the attack happened in North Waziristan.
Here’s what you need to know…
1. The Strike Killed 7 People
The drone reportedly killed seven people in total. The pilot-plane fired missiles into a compound just outside Miran Shah, the capital of North Waziristan. The Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan have acknowledged that the attack killed four of their members.
2. It’s the First Drone Strike in Pakistan Since the Election
Today’s drone strike was the first in the nation since the May 11 election of President Nawaz Sharif. The elections saw the public vote for “political parties that are strongly opposed to the US use of drones,” reports The Guardian.
Sharif was returned to power, in part, on the basis of a promise to reopen dialogue with the Taliban to try to bring to an end the insurgency in the country, the returning president assumes office on June 5. The most recent drone strike in Pakistan was April 17.
3. Rehman is Tied to the Murder of 7 CIA Agents
Rehman has been sought in connection with a number of attacks on U.S targets including the December 30, 2009, suicide attack on the Central Intelligence Agency outpost in the Khost province of Afghanistan, which killed seven agents. It was the largest single loss of life incident by the agency. In 2008 it’s believed that Rehman was behind an attack that killed 50 people at a Marriott Hotel in Islamabad.
Pakistani officials were also offering a $600,000 bounty for his capture.
4. He Promised an Attack “Greater Than 9/11”
Rehman had previously promised an attack on U.S. and NATO affiliate countries, particularly France and the UK, with an “attack greater than 9/11.”
He said in an interview to Al-Arabiya TV on August 26, 2011:
We will try to plan an attack greater than 9/11, but the preparation and the necessary resources require time. When it becomes possible, we will launch a more powerful attack, in cooperation with a group of mujahideen, in order to prove that we have not been weakened by the death of bin Laden.
5. In a Speech Last Week, Obama Defended the Drone Policy
This attack comes a week after President Barack Obama promised to continue with the use of drones against enemies of the United States, but with stricter targeting rules and more transparency. The Pakistani Foreign Ministry said in response to the speech: “…force alone cannot make us safe.”