The ostensible target was Faqir Mohammed, an al-Zawahiri deputy who hosted a meeting of Taliban and AQ fighters two days ago in Bajaur. They fired four or five missiles into the building, though, according to the Pakistani military, killing approximately 80 jihadis. Which sounds like an awful lot of firepower to be using for an aide-de-camp.
Indeed, says the Blotter quoting Pakistani officials, they were after the big dog himself.
They don’t think they got him, although another deputy, Maulana Liaquat, is presumed dead. As for Faqir Mohammed, early reports conflict: WaPo says he left half an hour before the attack but Bill Roggio believes he was on the premises at the time. Roggio’s also skeptical that this was carried out by the Pakistanis:
While the Pakistanis are taking credit for this strike, the question arises as to whether this may have been conducted by Task Force 145, the U.S. special operations terrorist hunter-killer teams. Task Force 145 was responsible for the April raid in Danda Saidgai on the al-Qaeda’s training camp for Osama bin Laden’s Black Guard, his elite praetorian guard. Pakistan initially took credit for the Danda Saidgai strikes, but the Washington Post later revealed this was indeed a U.S. mission. Dawn notes the raid occurred “at around 5:00 am,” which means it was conducted in the dark. Pakistani helicopter pilots would need night training in flight and targeting.
Exit question: if they did get him and you were Bush, would you/should you hold the announcement until after the election?
I’m thinking … no.
Update: Not only did Faqir Mohammed survive, he did an interview in the immediate aftermath of the attack … with NBC.